Blame it to the cartels! No rice shortage - Piñol - The Daily Sentry

Blame it to the cartels! No rice shortage - Piñol

DA Sec. assures the public that rice supply is sufficient for the next 90 days / photo file from GMA News

Manila, Philippines - Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Manny Piñol on Monday reiterated that there is no shortage of rice in the country, blaming the cartels for allegedly controlling the market price, contrary to the reports.

The DA chief said that there is no shortfall in the rice supply, and there is enough for consumption for the next 96 days.

Piñol, however, admitted that there is a hike in rice prices due to “speculation” in light of the delayed arrival of imported rice, as well as the temporary absence of the National Food Authority (NFA) rice in the market.

“We have no rice shortage but there is admittedly a spike in the price of rice in the market because of speculation dahil nga nawala ang NFA rice sa merkado ng mahaba (due to the long absence of NFA rice in the market). Na-delay din yung arrival ng imported rice (The arrival of imported rice is also delayed),” the Agriclture chief told the reporters in an ambush interview after attending  a congressional hearing at the House of Representatives.

He also assured the public that the situation will stabilize as the harvest soon starts by November.

Piñol explained that about 5.8 million tons of rice is available in the market for the next 96 days.  At least 2.7 million metric tons of it comes from the rice surplus in the year 2017 and the rest from the farmers’ harvest until March of this year.

He said that the public consumption of rice is estimated at 31, 450 metric tons per day or a total of 2.8 million metric tons for the next three months.*

“If you would deduct these 2.8 million metric tons of rice consumption of the Filipinos for the next 96 days, we still have 3 million metric tons available stocks of rice in the market.  With these data, ano bang rice shortage ang kanilang pinagsasabi?” he asked.

Piñol said that the country is rather suffering from an “anomalous food chain” where traders, instead of farmers, dictate the prices of rice sold to them. 

“the government has no control over it, and for that matter, the DA has no mandate to do so.” He said

Meanwhile, amid the calls for Piñol’s resignation, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said that there was no need for him to fire the DA chief.

“You know, all officials including me are bound by laws on the matter. Rice, whatever it is, there are laws to be followed. Maybe the laws are weak or unenforceable. All we have to do is to improve on those laws, not necessarily fire people,” the chief executive said

DA Secretary Manny Pinol (photo from his Facebook account) with President Rodrigo Duterte