MANILA - President Benigno Aquino III thinks a majority of Filipinos has been spared from the effects of high prices of rice.
Speaking to reporters in Japan, Aquino explained the price increases affect only well-milled rice and not the rice sold by the National Food Authority.
"'Yung low-end na rice, ano, category, ang briefing sa akin is hindi ganoon kalaki 'yung movement sa presyo. It is the well-milled that has had this very significant spike. So pagka sinasabi natin 'yung, 'di ba, sino ba ang naaapektuhan," he said.
“And I guess it is not the vast majority that is getting affected dahil nga hindi lahat nagko-consume, ang explanation sa akin, 'nung well-milled. NFA (National Food Authority) has also doubled its normal supply to ensure that there is, 'di ba, adequate supply that will prevent any undue upward move[ment]-parang 'yung panic buying that will induce further price spikes."
When asked, Aquino could not give any assurance that prices of rice and other products like garlic and ginger will stabilize soon.
"Nag-import tayo ng rice, as you know, we got criticized for it-800,000 (metric tons)-dahil may expectation na itong June, July-would be the lean months. So 'nung dumating na 'yung 12,000 of that 800,000 - it's roughly about 200,000 a month to augment. Ngayon, kasabay 'non, I asked the DOST siguro a month, two months ago, some time back-na can we use satellite imagery to actually determine arable lands that are planted to rice, tapos i-imbue kung ano ba 'yung tonnage per hectare in these particular municipalities to get the real, parang a real and accurate picture of 'yung rice supply natin," he said.
Aquino also could not pinpoint the cause of price increases.
"Now, ang daming debate. 'Yung output dahil sa 'Yolanda', 'Santi', and others, ano ba ang epekto talaga 'non? Nagka-delay ba, et cetera. 'Yung epekto ba ng pag-aari… 'Yung laban natin, laban sa Spratlys, ay nagpapataas ng presyo? We need definitive answers," he said.
Communication Secretary Sonny Coloma has previously said that he expects rice prices to stabilize in two months. He also said government agencies are conducting surveillance work to determine if there is any hoarding to jack up the prices of these commodities.
Rice and garlic are among the basic food items on Filipino dining tables.