Piñol vows to crack down on rice cartel
CAUAYAN CITY—Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Tuesday said he would help uncover the rice cartel controlling grain production and stabilize the price of palay (unhusked grains).
“There are these traders from Bulacan and Binondo who speculate to control prices … We must stop this rice cartel,” Piñol said, adding that this group was also pushing for his ouster.
“This is the cartel [composed of] people who can wage a campaign against you. They control it. However, my policy is no rice importation, even for corn as even imported wheat floods our local market,” he said.
According to him, the buying price for palay must fall within the P20-P22 a kilogram range, to balance the rice purchases of the private sector.
He said farms must develop more livestock projects which would consume rice straw left rotting in fields after harvests.
Piñol also said he formed a task force to look into the implementation of new regulations controlling the importation of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
He was criticized for suspending in March the enforcement of a Sugar Regulatory Administration order that imposed stiff tariff and duties on HFCS.
A soda bottling company tried to stop the order but lost in court.
He said he had lifted his earlier order and pushed for a regulated import of HFCS.—VILLAMOR VISAYA JR.
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