Gov’t plan to import 1.5M tons of rice ’embarrassing’–archbishop
Noting that the Philippines was once a known rice exporter in Asia, Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz on Tuesday said the government’s plan to import 1.5 million metric tons of rice in the first quarter of 2016 was “embarrassing.”
Cruz was reacting to the proposal of National Economic Development Authority (Neda) Director General Arsenio Balisacan to triple the volume of the original program to ensure sufficient rice supply amid prolonged drought due to the El Niño phenomenon.
“Hindi ba nakakahiya ‘yun … Kaya ka nga may rice institute sapagkat talagang rice land ang Pilipinas tapos nagpupunta dito ang mga foreigners. Ngayon tayo ang namimili ng bigas sa kanila at sila ‘yung nagtatanim ng bigas dun sa kani-kanilang bansa. Bakit nagkaganun, saan galing ‘yun?” Cruz told church-run Radyo Veritas.
“In short, ang pamahalaan, nakapagtataka—imbes na makatulong ay nakasisira pa,” he added.
Highlighting the supposedly stark contrast between the situation before and today, Cruz said it was foreign nationals who went to the Philippines in the past to learn lessons on rice farming.
“Noong araw, ewan ko kung buhay na siya (Balisacan), we were exporting rice. In fact, the International Rice Institute, there are students who came here and they learned. And we were self-sufficient in rice before (those) who studied in the country … went back to their countries and applied what they have learned here. And now they are the one exporting their rice to us,” Cruz said.
Balisacan is seeking President Benigno Aquino III’s approval to import one million metric tons of rice in addition to the 500,000 metric tons that the government has originally programmed to import.
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