Agriculture chief clarifies: No rice shortage nationwide
Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol on Wednesday clarified that there is no rice shortage nationwide. The rice crisis is limited to Zamboanga City, which is now under the state of calamity, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi.
“Dapat maintindihan natin ang nangyayari sa Zamboanga (We should understand that what is happening in Zamboanga). It’s not a shortage of rice supply nationwide. It’s a peculiar case sa Zamboanga City, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi,” Piñol said in an interview over DZMM.
A rice shortage prompted the local council of Zamboanga City on Monday to declare a state of calamity to enable the local government to control prices of the staple food and buy buffer stocks using a P15-million calamity fund.
Supplies began dwindling last week and rice prices climbed to P65 to P70 per kilo in remote villages like Pamucutan and Manalipa, according to Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar.
Piñol noted that the reason why there is rice shortage in those areas is because they have relied on smuggled rice for so long.
“Itong areas na ‘to for so long dependent sa smuggled rice. Maski local politicians involved sa smuggling. Ngayon lang napigilan sa panahon ni Pangulong Duterte. ‘Yong local rice industry nila napabayaan (These areas have been dependent on smuggled rice for so long. Even local politicians are involved in smuggling. It is only now that this problem is being addressed by President Duterte. The local industry there has been neglected),” he said
“Last month natigil bigla ang pagpasok ng smuggled na bigas and suddenly, Zamboanga City, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, nawalan ng supply ng bigas (Last month, the supply of smuggled rice was cut off, so suddenly there is rice shortage in Zamboanga City, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi),” he added.
Piñol stressed that the state of calamity in Zamboanga City is “not representative of the rice situation in the whole country.” /ee
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