Senator calls for probe into NICA report on ‘impending rice crisis’

April 12, 2011

Maila Ager
April 13, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Francis Pangilinan is set to file a resolution calling for an investigation on the report allegedly prepared by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) about an impending rice crisis in the country.
But NICA head, Trifonio Salazar, denied that there was such a report while Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala hinted that this could be the handiwork of people who wanted to raise money.

“If it’s true that this issue is being manipulated to drive prices high, then it’s a matter that needs our serious attention,” Pangilinan said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Speculation is one of the problems we’ve identified and this needs to be addressed. In this particular case, if we find out that it is manufactured and that unscrupulous traders are behind this, then they should be punished,” he added.

Pangilinan, chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, immediately reacted when the Philippine Daily Inquirer published the purported report of NICA.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the senator said, “We are not surprised with the results of the NICA report. The trend in higher food process did not begin February – not even this year.”

“The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization started reporting about the trend in 2010 and so the increase is not going to be sudden,” he said.

Pangilinan even called on the government to prepare in order to avert a looming rice crisis in the country.

As chairman of the committee, the senator said he was working closely with the Department of Agriculture in monitoring the state of the nation’s food supply and that a task force named Agriculture and Fisheries 2025 was created to ensure food security.

The task force, Pangilinan said, includes all the major players in the food supply chain in the country and aims to provide long-term, sustainable solutions to the various problems that continue to plague the agricultural sector.

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