Solon seeks probe of fake rice crisis report

April 14, 2011

Bernadette Tamayo and Tess Bedico
Journal Online
April 14, 2011

SENATOR Francis Pangilinan wants to investigate the controversial report purportedly released by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency indicating a looming food shortage in the country.

Even President Benigno Aquino was put off by the sham report.

Aquino said both  National Security  Adviser  Cesar  Garcia  and  National Intelligence Coordinating Agency chief Triponio Salazar called him up yesterday to deny the existence of such an intelligence report.

Agriculture officials gave assurances that rice production is increasing and that the expected deficit will be covered with additional importations

The fake report irked Pangilinan because he was one of lawmakers who reacted and demanded that the government do something about it.

“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. “Hindi biro ang usaping ito at lubhang napaka-sensitibo para gamitin ng ilang mapangahas na grupo o indibidwal para sa sariling interes.”

“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,” the senator said.

The Senate agricultural panel, Congressional Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization, and  the private sector earlier created a task force that will oversee efforts to ensure food security.

The task force, named Agriculture and Fisheries 2025 (AF2025), 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.

Pangilinan pressed for the inquiry a day after he called on concerned government agencies to avert an “impending rice crisis” in reaction to the purported NICA report on the country’s supposed “shrinking” rice supply.

Aquino however admitted that rising prices of basic commodities is a pressing concern not only in the Philippines but in other countries.

“ Sa Russia nagkaroon ng sunog  apektado ang trigo. Sa Brazil nabawasan iyong production ng kanilang asukal.  Sa Indonesia hindi nag-i-import ng bigas, nag-i-import na. Marami pang other examples. Bottom line talagang meron pressure on food prices,” the President said. “Merong  general na description na there are problems in the world food supply. You can even read the open access media and it will be there na meron talagang pressure sa world food supply.”

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