Opposition senators warn gov’t over possible rice supply manipulation
Senators Bam Aquino and Kiko Pangilinan have urged the government to closely monitor the distribution of recently purchased imported rice by the National Food Authority (NFA), as fears of supply manipulation arise.
In separate statements from the senators on Tuesday, they said that concerned agencies should watch over the possible relocation of the NFA rice to markets, which will deny families, especially poor Filipinos, access to cheaper grains.
“Ngayong may dumating na bigas, baka maulit lang ang nangyari at mapunta na naman agad ang buffer stock sa kamay ng mga traders,” Aquino said, referring to the previous issue involving NFA, when the buffer stock supply was reduced to a 15-day availability.
(Now that the imported rice has arrived, we might see a repeat of what happened where the buffer stock went to the hands of the traders.)
“Authorities should also be on guard against possible illegal diversion and repacking of rice to be sold to the commercial market at higher prices. The quantity of the imported grains has certainly made hoarders and profiteers on the lookout anew for their illegal activities, Pangilinan said.
Both senators, who are members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, asked government to assure that affordable rice would reach the priority locales.
“Government should ensure that affordable rice reach the intended areas for the benefit of the low-income sector,” Pangilinan said.
“Mahigit isang taon ding nalunod ang ating mga kababayan sa mahal na presyo ng bigas. Ngayon, tiyakin natin na tuluy-tuloy na ang supply ng murang bigas para gumaan naman ang kanilang kalagayan,” Aquino added.
(Filipinos drowned in the high prices of rice for more than a year. Now, let us assure that there is a continuous supply of cheap rice so that their lives would improve.)
According to Aquino, government should focus on the price of rice, after the prices of most commercial-grade grains rose to P45 to P50 per kilo. NFA’s recent purchase would be sold at a notably lower price of P27 and P32 per kilo,
“Bigas ang bumubuhay sa ating mga Pilipino araw-araw kaya kailangan itong pagtuunan ng pansin ng pamahalaan at tiyaking mayroong sapat na supply ng murang bigas sa merkado,” Aquino said.
(Rice keeps Filipinos alive every day, that is why the government needs to pay attention to it and assure that there is an enough supply of cheap rice in the market.)
Pangilinan also suggested that instead of putting its energy on the anti-tambay operations, the Philippine National Police, in partnership with the National Bureau of Investigation, should prevent the manipulation of rice supply.
“With this situation lurking, the government can proactively nip this in the bud by seeking the help of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation in the conduct of raids and inspection of rice warehouses,” he said.
“Instead of going after the ‘tambays,’ the PNP would have better use for its force by guarding the Filipino’s staple food to make sure that they are available in the market at prices affordable to ordinary Filipinos,” he added. /je
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