MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Tuesday led the distribution of confiscated rice to poor families, calling it a strong signal that government is serious in going after smugglers.
The rice given out is from 42,180 rice sacks worth an estimated P42 million that the Bureau of Customs seized in Zamboanga City.
The rice has so far been donated to poor families in Zamboanga, General Trias in Cavite, Camarines Sur, and now in Manila.
"Kaysa naman masayang ang mga bigas na ito ay minabuti na nating ibigay sa mga mamamayan," Marcos said.
(Instead of the rice going to waste, we are giving it away to the citizens.)
"Magsisilbing babala rin ito sa mga smugglers at hoarders na ang bigas sa bansa ay ating babantayan," he added.
(This will serve as a warning to smugglers and hoarders that we will keep an eye on rice in the country.)
He said that smuggling, hoarding and abuse are prohibited in the "Bagong Pilipinas" (New Philippines), the Marcos Jr. administration's rebrand of government.
'A DIFFICULT FIGHT'
The President acknowledged that the government's fight against smuggling and hoarding would be difficult, but vowed authorities would not stand down as they aim to pull down rice prices.
Marcos reiterated to officials his directive to beef up their implementation of policies to keep rice prices within reach.
"Alam kong magiging mahirap ang laban na ito dahil matagal na silang namamayagpag sa kalakaran na ito ngunit desidido po ako na ang buong puwersa ng pamahalaan na matigil na ang mga iligal na operasyong ito," Marcos, who is also agriculture secretary, said.
(I know that this will be a difficult fight because the smugglers and hoarders have been doing their schemes for a long time, but I am determined to use the full force of the government to end these illegal operations.)
'RICE PRICES UP BECAUSE OF HOARDING'
Marcos noted that rice prices have soared despite the Philippines having enough supply of the staple.
"Wala namang nag-panic buying. Walang dahilan kung bakit tataas ang presyo ng bigas kung hindi ang hoarding," he said.
(There has not been any panic buying. There is no other reason for rice prices to go up except hoarding.)
The President last week said he wants to give suspected hoarders and smugglers less time to produce documents that will prove their goods are legitimate.
He also said then that he did not want to impose a price cap on rice but was forced to do so because of smuggling.
The President also sought the speedy passage of a bill imposing grave punishment on agricultural economic sabotage.