Legarda calls for probe of rising rice prices


MARKET goers crowd a section of a market in Cagayan de Oro City to buy rice amid reports of impending shortages and the continuing increase in prices of the staple. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The Senate will look into the state of the country’s rice supply on the heels of what Sen. Loren Legarda called an “alarming rise” in the cost of the Filipinos’ staple food.

Legarda last week filed Senate Resolution No. 233 calling for the inquiry, saying that the price of the lowest variety of commercial grade rice available in the market rose from P27 to P34 per kilo in just a few months.

“The rise in the cost of rice in the past few months can imply either an insufficient supply in the market or the presence of manipulative forces adversely affecting the price dynamics of our staple food,” Legarda said in a statement.

Sen. Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture, yesterday said she would conduct the inquiry next week.

“We will call for an investigation on the increase in cost of rice anytime next week. In the process, we will also look into the smuggling of rice and onions, and the reported hoarding of rice by some groups,” Villar said in a statement.

Villar said that since rice is the country’s staple, “it should be readily available and should remain affordable to all, especially the poor Filipinos.”

Villar added that the inquiry would determine the factors behind the alarming hike in the cost of rice and how this could be stopped.

“Rice sufficiency and its affordability are among our concerns,” Villar said.

In pushing for her resolution, Legarda said that the current scenario of constant price increases due to repeated supply shortages at the retail level may even be ominous of an impending rice crisis.

“It is also important to note that the country’s rice self-sufficiency targets are even more threatened by the ever increasing number and intensity of typhoons and other extreme weather events,” Legarda said.

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