Following reports of rampant manipulation of the buying price of palay for as low as P13 from a high of P18, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Wednesday pushed for the creation of an inter-agency task force to combat the manipulation of rice prices.
“I see this as a matter where we need to intervene. Dapat mayroong matatakbuhan ang ating mga farmers. Maybe we can put together an inter-agency task force to look into this, consisting of the National Food Authority, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Agriculture,” Pangilinan said.
The issue came to light during Monday’s public hearing on quantitative restrictions on rice. Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol reported that some traders threaten farmers of not buying their rice because of supposed damage.
“Kasi ang peculiar situation po natin sa Pilipinas kasi kadalasan iyong harvest season, natataong tag-ulan. Kaya ang nangyayari, ginagawang dahilan noong mga traders, ‘Hindi namin kayang bilhin iyong palay mo, tumutulo,’” Pinol said.
Rice traders, however, would still agree to buy the rice if it is sold at a lower price.
“Ang dahilan nila, ‘Hindi dry iyong palay mo, mababa, wala na kaming warehouse na paglalagyan, wala na kaming dryer. But if you sell your palay at P13, we will buy it.’ So, ano’ng tawag mo diyan? Hindi ba, manipulation iyan?” Pinol added.
Pangilinan, who currently chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, requested for additional information to serve as guidance if there would be a need for a separate Senate hearing on the issue.
“Maybe the DA can help us with the information so that, if we need to call a second hearing specifically on that matter, then we will call a second hearing so that we can put a lid on it,” Pangilinan said.
“Let us know if you have initial findings that you think can help us so that we can also be guided here in the Senate. The Agriculture Committee will be more than willing to cooperate and coordinate,” Pangilinan said.
The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food will next convene tomorrow, Thursday, October 20, to discuss the Sagip Saka Act of 2016 which pushes for agricultural entrepreneurship and development.