Contrary to what others thought that there is a rice shortage nationwide, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said that this is not the case nationwide. The rice crisis is confined only to Zamboanga City, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi which are all now under the state of calamity.
In a radio interview, Piñol said, “We should understand that the rice shortage is happening in Zamboanga. It’s not a shortage of rice supply nationwide. It’s a peculiar case in Zamboanga City, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi.”
Because of the rice shortage, it prompted the local council of Zamboanga City on Monday to declare a state of calamity to enable the local government to control prices of the staple food and buy buffer stocks using a P15-million calamity fund.
Supplies began dwindling last week and rice prices climbed to P65 to P70 per kilo in remote villages like Pamucutan and Manalipa, according to Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar. Piñol noted that the reason why there is rice shortage in those areas is because they have relied on smuggled rice for so long. This was also mentioned by Piñol when he was also interviewed by THEPHILBIZNEWS.
When asked why rice shortage is just confined in Zamboanga City, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi, the Agriculture Chief said, “These areas have long been so dependent on smuggled rice, and sadly there are local politicians who are apparently involved in smuggling”.
“To be fair with President Rodrigo Duterte, it is only now that this problem is being addressed by the President Duterte which was ignored before. The local industry there has been neglected”, Piñol added.
Last month, the supply of smuggled rice was cut off, so suddenly there is rice shortage in Zamboanga City, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi,” he added.
Piñol stressed that the state of calamity in Zamboanga City is “not representative of the rice situation in the whole country.”
In closing, the Secretary Piñol said, “Let’s not equate the shortage in some areas which is an isolated case to be the case in the entire Philippines.”