Rice price manipulators should be punished, says watchdog
MANILA – Some Filipinos are forced to lessen their consumption or switch to cheaper alternatives as rice prices continue to increase.
“Sa umaga hindi nalang kumain ng kanin,” said house helper Jenny Barbaso.
In Cebu, consumers are complaining about the P1 hike per kilo of commercial rice while in Iloilo City, the price of rice went up by P0.50 per kilo.
Those in Santiago City, Isabela also rushed to buy National Food Authority (NFA) rice, fearing supplies would run out.
But the NFA maintains there is no rice shortage in the country.
A consumer watchdog group, however, is not convinced.
"Nagra-rice self sufficiency ka pero tumataas ang presyo ng bigas, aba may problema tayo diyan," said Rafael Mariano, convenor of Bantay Bigas.
On Tuesday, Bantay Bigas will meet with NFA officials.
During the dialogue, the consumer watchdog vows to challenge the agency to disclose and release the list of private individuals who were given permits to import rice as well as the rice industry's major players in the country.
Bantay Bigas said rice industry players and importers who manipulate the market should be brought to justice.
"Kapag hindi ginawa, ang sasabihin ko doon, hindi lang si administrator Calayag, hindi lang si Secretary Procy Alcala, hindi lang si President Noynoy Aquino ang nagpoprotekta sa cartel sa bigas,” said Mariano.
Malacañang assures consumers that the NFA is gathering evidence against those who may be guilty of market manipulation.