MANILA — Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan and Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino have called for an inquiry in aid of legislation on the rice crisis in Zamboanga City and the eight-month hike in rice prices in the country.
In Proposed Senate Resolution 868 filed by the two senators Tuesday evening, Senators Pangilinan and Aquino noted that the National Food Authority (NFA) “must be held accountable and must see to it that cheap and quality rice is available in the market.”
They said the NFA “must explain the said shortage, the alleged hoarding, and how the situation in Zamboanga City reached calamity level.”
Senators Pangilinan and Aquino said the public must be informed of how NFA is trying to solve the crisis situation so 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.”
Aside from Zamboanga City, Isabela City in Basilan was also placed under a state of calamity for 60 days also due to rice scarcity, they added.
The rice crisis is not limited to Zamboanga City, where prices reached P70 per kilo, as the Philippine Statistics Authority reported “an upward streak” for rice prices “for eight months now.”
Citing PSA figures, the senators noted the following year-on-year increases on:
- average wholesale price of well-milled rice at P43.18 per kilo, or 10 percent higher
- average retail price of well-milled rice at P45.71 per kilo, or 9 percent higher
- average wholesale price of regular-milled rice at P40.08 per kilo, or 13 percent higher
- average retail price of regular-milled rice at P42.26 per kilo, or 11 percent higher
Pangilinan was Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization during the Aquino administration, and rice supply and prices were kept stable even during the dry season brought by the El Nino phenomenon.
An anti-TRAIN advocate, Aquino has also filed Senate Bill 1798, or Bawas Presyo Bill to lower the prices of goods in the market. The measure seeks to suspend excise tax on fuel under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law when prices increase above government targets.