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Politicians hit for causing, riding on rice woes

/ 05:43 AM September 23, 2018

SELLING STATION NFA rice is sold at barangay stations in Zamboanga City to make it available to the communities. —JULIE ALIPALA/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

ZAMBOANGA CITY — Local politicians are using the National Food Authority’s (NFA)  distribution of rice in the countryside to suggest that they helped solve the shortage of the staple in the area.

“These local government officials were responsible [for the shortage in the first place] because of their failure to look ahead,” said Edgar Araojo, a political science professor at Western Mindanao State University.

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“Now they want to show they are solving the crisis by helping the NFA sell government rice to the poor? That’s 110 percent hypocrisy,” Araojo said.

Officials’ failure

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Araojo said he was dismayed to find some local officials and political aspirants, making themselves visible at the NFA’s “Tagpuan sa Barangay” rice distribution events when they did nothing to prevent the problem in the first place.

“Our local leaders failed to do their job,” he said, noting that only two areas in the city’s rice- producing farms were irrigated.

“At the outset, they knew the city was not producing rice for its population. We have rice fields getting dry, but they did not do anything,” he said.

Now, they participate in the Tagpuan sa Barangay events as if they had a part in solving the rice shortage, the professor added.

Elimar Rigindin, provincial manager of NFA Zamboanga, said his office did not invite city or village officials to join the rice selling programs.

“We don’t invite them and we cannot prevent them from going there,” he said.

Political reality

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“Rice is a political commodity and it’s up to the voters [whether they will accept] that kind of political strategy. We cannot do anything,” Rigindin said.

Rigindin said there would no longer be a rice shortage in Zamboanga in the coming months, as the NFA had enough stocks to last until 2019.

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TAGS: National Food Authority, NFA, politicians, rice shortage, Rice Supply
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