In his privilege speech on Tuesday, Councilor Francisco Remitar told the legislative body that “a big shortage of rice or a very sharp increase in its price is everybody’s concern.”
Remitar noted that rice is the country’s staple food and its shortage would mean hundreds of thousands of Filipinos going hungry.
He criticized the suggestion of Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap that operators of restaurants and fast food centers should reduce rice servings to half a cup each.
The councilor called Yap’s suggestion stupid and nonsense.
Remitar, a former barangay captain, urged the government to adopt a rational and integrated rice production reform program. He said farmers should acquire more lands for rice production.
He said he was worried upon knowing that some 100 hectares of lands in the towns of Asuncion, Kapalong, Sto. Tomas and Talaingod were converted into a banana plantation.
He also observed that NFA rice was being mixed with commercial rice by “unscrupulous traders and sold at a higher price ranging from P27.00 up to P30.00 per kilo.”
“The NFA is importing 2.7 million metric tons of rice from Vietnam, Thailand and Pakistan but traders often tell their customers that they are out of stock of NFA rice,” he added.
He called on the city council to invite the agriculture officer and agrarian reform officer of Davao del Norte to provide them with “correct or reliable information on the status of rice production and level of conversion of rice land.”
The neophyte councilor blamed “unscrupulous NFA employees” for allegedly creating an artificial rice shortage. He cited that grain dealers in North Cotabato were complaining of limited rice stocks distributed by NFA amid allegations these were sold to neighboring provinces by these employees
“I believe that there is no unscrupulous trader if there are no unscrupulous NFA employees,” Remiter said, adding NFA officials should be invited to the investigation. (Alden Pantaleon, Jr./MindaNews)