NEWS RELEASE: February 19, 2018
“Removing the P27 NFA rice in the market and raising the price of NFA rice is a declaration of war against poor Filipinos,” Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said as a reaction to the statement of NFA Director Rex Estoperez in an interview last Saturday.
Estoperez said that the large price gap between the P27 NFA rice and commercial rice prices ‘traumatize’ NFA’s buffer stock.
“NFA’s limited buffer stock is due to its failure to uphold its mandate. Instead of procuring 10 percent of the total local rice production, it only acquires 1 to 2 percent, sometimes even lower just like in 2016 where it only purchased 0.6 percent of local production,” Estavillo said.
“It is the NFA’s mandate ‘to ensure national food security and stabilize supply and prices of staple cereals both in the farm and consumer levels’. But instead of lowering the prices of rice to make it more affordable for the poor, they are considering to hike the prices,” Estavillo said.
Estavillo added, “Selling NFA rice at P32 per kilo is equivalent to 20 percent price increase from (the P27). Why is the NFA putting the burden of its failure to the impoverished Filipinos?”
The rice watch group said that Duterte is accountable for his cabinet officials’ absurd solutions to the country’s chronic problems which make the poor Filipinos’ life even harder.
The group vowed to oppose anti-people policies that would hinder the attainment of sufficient, safe and affordable rice. They reiterated the call to address the problems affecting the local rice industry to ensure the country’s food security through increased local palay procurement at higher purchasing price, free land distribution and provision of support services to boost rice production and to put an end to importation. ###