DA execs find rice shortage caused by war on smuggling
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the successful campaign against rice smuggling had led to rice shortage here, sending rice prices skyrocketing to more than P50 per kilogram.
“It’s a good job gone bad,” Piñol said.
“Good job because smuggling (of rice has) stopped. But bad because Zamboanga is experiencing rice shortage,” Piñol said at a visit in Zamboanga City.
“It’s only in Zamboanga City that we ran out of rice stocks and, what is funny, the successful campaign against rice smuggling was one of the reasons behind the rice shortage here,” Piñol added.
He said, however, he was not blaming anyone.
“In fact, we are happy that we have succeeded in stopping the smuggling of rice. But there is a backlash: It led to the reduction of volume of rice,” he said.
For years, Zamboanga City has been enjoying an abundance of rice due to smuggling, Piñol said.
“But with very strict directives from the President [Rodrigo Duterte], the law enforcers came into the picture and succeeded in making life for smugglers difficult,” Piñol said.
“We have to contain this problem, it’s a pleasant problem,” he said.
Since last week, consumers in Zamboanga were alarmed by rising prices of rice, prompting them to appeal to the government for help.
“We have been eating porridge for almost a week,” said Perlita Julian, a tomb maintenance worker and candle vendor.
She said her six children needed 2 kilograms of rice a day, so when prices went up beyond what she could afford, they were forced to eat porridge.
Julian used to buy National Food Authority rice, which was cheaper, but the store ran out of stock, forcing her to buy rice for P48 per kilogram.
Last week, the price of ordinary rice went up to P58 a kilo.
“I could hardly earn a hundred pesos selling candles,” Julian said. —Julie Alipala
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