MANILA - Sen. Cynthia Villar on Wednesday called for a ban on the offering of unlimited rice servings or “unli-rice” in restaurants amid government efforts towards rice self-sufficiency.
Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, made the call in a committee hearing as she urged food establishments to encourage people to eat more vegetables instead.
"You know, the findings in other countries, mas better ang diet nila. Hindi masyadong maraming rice, may vegetable. If you really ask doctors, that’s a better diet," Villar said.
"So dapat i-train na rin nating mga Filipinos not to eat too much rice kasi nagiging diabetic. And you know, it’s expensive to cure diabetes. Parang sinasabi sa ibang bansa kaya hindi sila nagiging self-sufficient, because they have a better diet. So makakatulong iyon, iyong sinasabi nilang unlimited rice, hindi maganda iyon sa diet natin," she told reporters after the committee hearing.
The senator took the Agriculture department to task to ensure that there would be no more rice importation starting next year.
The directive is in connection with Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol’s earlier statement before the committee that he aimed to end by 2018 the country's need to import rice.
She, however, said that she was not that optimistic that the country could be rice sufficient by 2018, unless the Agriculture department would effectively address various issues on rice production.
“It's really hard…but if they (DA) can solve the problem, they can be (resolved)," Villar told reporters.
"Iyon ang projection (2018) ni Secretary Piñol, kung makukuha niya. Kasi ang importation depends on production. If the production can meet the consumption, then no importation. Marami nang nag-project nang ganoon, hindi naman natupad," she said.
The senator based her position on the Agriculture department's report on rice production.
For 2017, the projected rice production is at 12 million metric tons against the overall projected consumption of 12.1 million metric tons of rice in the country.
The amount is aside from the 625,000 metric tons of rice that would serve as buffer stock for 15 days, Villar said.
For 2018, the projection is at 13.22 million metric tons against the country’s expected consumption of 12.3 million metric tons.