Makabayan bloc wants House probe into Zamboanga City rice crisis
MANILA, Philippines – Progressive lawmakers in the Makabayan bloc want the House of Representatives to investigate the rice shortage in Zamboanga City that led to a state of calamity.
The following lawmakers filed House Resolution (HR) No. 2108 on Wednesday, August 29:
- ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro
- Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao
- Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate
- Gabriela Women’s Party Representatives Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas
- Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago
They filed HR 2108 on same day they filed another resolution calling for a probe into the importation of thousands of bags of rice infested with rice weevils or bukbok from Thailand.
Zamboanga City was placed under a state of calamity on August 21 because of the rice shortage that drove up commercial rice prices to as much as P70 per kilo in remote villages.
Zamboanga City Vice Mayor Cesar Iturralde said the state of calamity will remain until rice prices become stable again.
In HR 2108, the Makabayan bloc quoted the group Bantay Bigas as saying that the Zamboanga City rice crisis is a “microcosm of the instability of food security in the country.”
“NFA (National Food Authority) denied any responsibility to the emergency, but Bantay Bigas asserted that it is their mandate to stabilize supply and prices of rice all over the country, but its policies and reliance to importation has led to its incapacity to check or counter-profiteering practices of commercial rice traders,” said the lawmakers.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol previously said smuggled rice caused prices to soar in Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi (Zambasulta). But he later floated the idea of legalizing the entry of smuggled rice into the Zambasulta area.
On Wednesday, Vice President Leni Robredo also said Piñol was “insensitive” when he said Filpino farmers supposedly benefit soaring rice prices. – Rappler.com