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    VP Leni to NFA, DA: Act together to immediately solve rice crisis

    VP Leni to NFA, DA: Act together to immediately solve rice crisis
    Robredo hits ‘insensitive’ remarks over rice smuggling, rising prices benefiting poor farmers

    Vice President Leni Robredo urged concerned government agencies to work together for a unified “game plan,” as she reiterated her call for the immediate resolution to the rising price of rice.

    Noting that the crisis is seen as a main driver in the rise of inflation, VP Leni said the infighting and “conflicting statements” being issued by officials from the National Food Authority (NFA) administration, the NFA Council, and the Department of Agriculture are only adding to the problem at hand.

    “Iyong pinaka-problema kasi dito, walang isang mukha—walang isang mukha iyong pamahalaan, walang isang boses,” she said in an interview Wednesday. “Isa lang sana iyong plano ng ating pamahalaan—hindi iyong iba ang plano ng Council, iba iyong plano ng Administration, iba iyong plano ng DA as an agency… Ano iyong game plan? Saan tayo patutungo?”

    While supportive of the administration’s push for rice tariffication, the Vice President urged lawmakers and the agencies alike to push for initiatives that will help poor farmers amid these changes. She proposed “safety nets” in the proposed legislation, such as assistance to farmers in cost of production, and ensuring that the industry’s produce will be able to compete with cheap rice imports.

    “[S]iguraduhin na iyong tulong, talagang mapupunta doon sa mga pinaka-nangangailangan,” she said. “Sumasang-ayon tayo dito sa panukalang batas on tariffication, pero nababahala din tayo kung paano ito i-i-implement nang maayos.”

    ‘Insensitive’

    In the said interview, VP Leni said she is “dismayed” by the recent statements made on the matter, such as Agriculture Sec. Manny Piñol’s suggestion to “legalize” rice smuggling in certain parts of the country.

    The Vice President also said it is “insensitive” to imply that the rising price of rice benefits the poor farmers.

    “Insensitive ito sa kahirapan na pinagdaraanan ng ordinaryong pamilyang Pilipino. Alam natin kung gaano kahirap, lalo sa pinakamahihirap na mga pamilya, iyong napakataas na presyo ng bigas,” she said.

    “Sunod, alam naman natin na kapag natataaasan iyong presyo ng bigas, hindi mahihirap na mga magsasaka iyong mga nakikinabang nito. Mas makikinabang pa nito iyong mga nag-i-speculate, mas makikinabang pa nito iyong traders. Pero iyong pinakamahihirap na magsasaka, alam natin na hindi sila iyong nakikinabang,” she added. “Halos linggo-linggo nasa baba tayo, halos linggo-linggo kausap natin iyong maliliit na mga magsasaka, mahihirap na mga Pilipino. Ito iyong parati nilang nirereklamo.”

    “Imbes na gagawa ng mga statement na ganito, una, tanggapin na may problema. Pangalawa, umako ng responsibilidad. Pangatlo, may assurance man lang sana na ginagawa ng pamahalaan iyong lahat para masugpo iyong problema sa lalong madaling panahon,” she went on. “[S]ana mas reassuring iyong pamahalaan—sabihin saan ba tayo patutungo, kailan ito, ano iyong plano.”

    Posted in Press Releases on Aug 29, 2018