Lagot! Kiko, Bam seek NFA accountability on rice crisis, climbing rice prices
By Xave Gregorio
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan and Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino want to hold the National Food Authority (NFA) accountable for the rice crisis in Zamboanga City where rice prices shot up to P70 per kilogram and the climbing rice prices nationwide.
“The NFA must also be held accountable and must see to it that cheap and quality rice is available in the market,” Pangilinan and Aquino said in their Senate Resolution No. 868, which was filed Tuesday evening (August 28).
They added that the NFA “must explain the said shortage, the alleged hoarding, and how the situation in Zamboanga City reached calamity level.”
The two opposition senators are calling for a Senate inquiry on the Zamboanga City rice crisis and rice prices, which they say have “remain[ed] in an upward streak for eight months now.”
“The public must be informed of the necessary steps taken by the NFA to solve the matter and be ensured that a crisis of such degree will not happen again in the city of in any part of the country and that unscrupulous traders and other influential forces in and out of government are not able to manipulate the procurement process and the availability of rice stocks,” Pangilinan and Aquino said.
Due to rice scarcity, Zamboanga City and Isabela City in Basilan province have been placed under a state of calamity for 60 days to impose a price ceiling on rice.
Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol has blamed the area’s supposed reliance on smuggled rice from Vietnam and Thailand and is pushing for the legalization of rice smuggling in the Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi area.
But Pangilinan balked at Piñol’s proposal, reminding him that large-scale rice smuggling is “considered economic sabotage and is a non-bailable offense.”