Senator Bam Aquino urged the government to ensure that the imported rice purchased by the National Food Authority (NFA) will go to its intended beneficiaries to guarantee a steady supply of affordable rice in the market.
“Mahigit isang taon ding nalunod ang ating mga kababayan sa mahal na presyo ng bigas. Ngayon, tiyakin natin na tuluy-tuloy na ang supply ng murang bigas para gumaan naman ang kanilang kalagayan,” said Sen. Bam.
Earlier, the government said it expects prices of rice to lower with the arrival of the first tranche of imported rice, which will be distributed to provinces in Luzon and Mindanao. The rice has two varieties, priced at P27 and P32 per kilo.
The prices of commercial rice in the market rose to as much as P45 to P50 per kilo with the absence of NFA rice in the market since March of last year.
During a Senate hearing, NFA administrator Jason Aquino admitted that the agency failed to comply with the 15-day buffer stock policy for almost one year.
Sen. Bam said NFA’s inefficiency resulted in the increase in prices of commercial rice, forcing Filipino families to spend more for their staple food.
“Bigas ang bumubuhay sa ating mga Pilipino araw-araw kaya kailangan itong pagtuunan ng pansin ng pamahalaan at tiyaking mayroong sapat na supply ng murang bigas sa merkado,” added Sen. Bam.
Despite the arrival of imported NFA rice, Sen. Bam maintains that the NFA administrator should resign to avoid a repeat of last year’s debacle. Also, Sen. Bam is worried that the imported NFA rice could land in the hands of traders who will sell it for a higher price.
“Ngayong may dumating na bigas, baka maulit lang ang nangyari at mapunta na naman agad ang buffer stock sa kamay ng mga traders,” Sen. Bam stressed.