MANILA- The rice shortage in Zamboanga City is due to the lack of supply and not because of rice hoarders and cartels, its mayor clarified Wednesday.
Rising demand from neighboring towns and cities caused rice supply in Zamboanga City to dwindle as traders compete for the supply, Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar told ANC.
"The shortage is caused by lack of supply of other neighboring provinces and municipalities," she said.
"There is so much demand all over our neighbors that is why the supply that is coming into Zamboanga and should be shipped to Zamboanga is being redirected," she added.
One such town with an increased demand is Jolo, which saw a massive fire that engulfed some 3,500 houses last month.
With rice supply dwindling and rising prices of commercial rice, Zamboanga City on Tuesday was placed under a state of calamity. Commercial rice is currently sold at P58 to P72 per kilo in the city.
Climaco-Salazar meanwhile dismissed rumors of rice hoarding as the cause of rice shortage.
"We have not discovered any rice hoarding but nonetheless, we are very adamant in trying to run after them," she said.
She added that the local government is banking on an increase in supply next month as harvest season begins.
"September is expected to be the harvest season. We expect that supply to come in," she said.
For the meantime, local government officials are in continuous talks with rice traders over the supply problem.
"We are continuously trying to talk to commercial rice dealers to sell to the city of Zamboanga," she said.