MANILA - The chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food sought an investigation into the alleged shortage of government-subsidized rice, calling it a "failure" of the state grains agency.
Sen. Cynthia Villar filed Senate Resolution No. 608 Tuesday, citing the “need to look into the supply of NFA (National Food Authority) rice for the consuming public and NFA in fulfilling its administrative capabilities to respond to the need of the people.”
"That’s a failure sa kanilang trabaho. Yun ang mandate nila that they should have 15 day supply of rice. Pag wala, kasalanan nila yun," Villar said.
(That's a failure to do their job. Their mandate is to have 15 days supply of rice. If there's none, it's their fault.)
"Baka ayaw nila bumili ng local. Gusto nila importation. Alam mo namang maraming calamities, so you should have prepared for that," she said.
(Maybe they don't want to buy local. They want importation. We are hit by many calamities, so you should have prepared for that.)
Villar said there was no rice shortage in the country.
The inquiry will also tackle the proposal to impose duties on rice imports instead of setting quotas.
The Philippines should have lifted its quantitative restriction on rice by June 30 last year as part of its commitments to the World Trade Organization.
In May, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order 23, which extended for 3 more years the country's import quota for rice, as it is believed to benefit local farmers.
The National Economic and Development Authority and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies recommend the adoption of tariffs, with revenues earmarked as safety net for rice farmers.
Both suggest a 35-percent tariff rate.