Criticism on rice crisis not destab plot against gov’t, says Pangilinan
Liberal Party’s criticism on the rice crisis is not a form of destabilization against the government, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said on Tuesday.
Instead of finger pointing, he said the government should address the rice crisis head on.
“Sa halip na ipaliwanag kung bakit nagkaproblema, nagkapalpak-palpak, eh maninisi o maghahanap ng sisisihin, ipaliwanag na lang at gumawa ng aksyon na matugunan ‘yung problema ng ekonomiya, ‘yung pagtaas ng presyo ng mga bilihin, ‘yung nawawalang NFA rice, eh dapat ‘yun ang sagutin nila,” Pangilinan said.
(Instead of explaining the problem, the government is shifting the blame to other people or groups. They should instead act and find solutions to our economic problems, including the rise in basic prices of commodities, the missing rice stock, among others.)
With the rapid increase of rice prices due to the missing stocks from the National Food Authority (NFA), Pangilinan said commercial traders could cause a crisis.
“Ba’t nawawala? Napunta ba sa commercial traders? Ito ba ay ni-rebag? ‘Yan ang mga posibleng dahilan kung bakit walang murang bigas sa merkado dahil ‘yung dapat sanang presyong P27 at P32, ay napunta na sa trader at binebenta nang P40 hanggang P45 hanggang P50,” he said.
(Where did the rice stocks go? Did it go to the commercial traders? Were the cheap rice repacked? These are the possible reasons why cheap rice — supposedly priced between P27 to P32 per kilo — is not available in the market. It looks like the rice supply went to traders which now sell rice for P40 to P50)
When asked about LP’s proposed solution to the rice crisis, Pangilinan said the responsibility for managing the supply must be given to more deserving officials.
“Ang remedy sa akin kung tatanungin, tanggalin ‘yung mga namamahala, ang ating ahensya ng pamahalaan na may kinalaman dito. At ipasok at ibigay ang management sa mga nakakaalam at sa mga malinis ang hangarin at hindi nakikipagsabwatan sa mga trader at iba pang mga grupo, mga smuggler sa usaping ito (If you ask me, the solution is to sack officials managing the rice supply and the agency overseeing this. Allow competent people to manage this, not people who will connive with traders and other groups, including smugglers),” he said.
Aside from Pangilinan, other senators had also blamed the NFA authorities for the rice shortage and price hike.
On August 23, the issue on the rice shortage was raised after the NFA announced thousands of sacks of rice were infested with weevils and stored inside a ship in Subic.
But on September 3, Duterte allayed fears of a rice shortage, saying during his trip in Israel that there is “plenty of rice.” Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol echoed Duterte, saying the rice shortage was just “speculation.” /ee
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