Solon calls for gov’t action on rice supply, price issues
MANILA, Philippines — Nueva Ecija 3rd District Rep. Ria Vergara has asked the government to take decisive steps against the potential rice shortage and a possible price increase and added that the country should have already learned from the recent onion crisis.
During her privilege speech on Tuesday’s session, Vergara asked that the Department of Agriculture (DA) monitor rice buffer stock on a more frequent basis, while the Department of Trade and Industry should check prices regularly.
“I join President (Ferdinand) Marcos (Jr.) and call on the officials of the [DA] to closely monitor, verify and assess the country’s rice stock on a regular basis, either weekly, or a daily basis even, similar to the daily COVID reports of DOH at the height of COVID-19,” Vergara said.
“I also call on the Department of Trade and Industry to put in place price ceilings for basic commodities, specifically for rice, before we feel the brunt of El Niño. Climate change will continue to have a negative impact on our country’s food security, especially our agricultural sector. These disruptions to our rice productivity require the government to act expeditiously to ensure we have ample supply,” she added.
Vergara said this after reports came out about the thinning rice buffer stock of the National Food Administration (NFA) — which she said “feels like déjà vu”, referring to the sharp rise in onion prices due to a shortage, which several lawmakers claimed was a result of price manipulation.
Last April, President Marcos said that the NFA should increase their rice stock through imports and local sources, noting that the buffer stock was too low.
The President, however, assured that while the country would rely on importation again, the number of imported rice would continue to go down.
However, NFA said in a report last August 2 that its stockpile is only good for two days, short of the minimum inventory requirement of at least nine days.
“We cannot allow the same things to happen to the rice industry. If we fail to act or if we act too late, the same unscrupulous individuals will use the same playbook to manipulate prices and make another killing at the cost of Filipinos suffering. They will use the inevitable El Niño season and the global rice shortage as justifications to manipulate the supply and the price of rice, just like they did with the onion industry,” Vergara claimed.