Notes on the raging rice crisis under President Arroyo

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan has made a preliminary study of the ongoing rice crisis which was presented to leaders of Bayan’s various member-organizations.

The study is interesting and should be an eye-opener to those who harbor naive notions about the rice supply crisis as well as for those who swallow the Arroyo administration’s line that there is no crisis at all. My suggestion is for you to download, read and then  forward/repost this Powerpoint presentation.

In a statement issued today, Bayan also called for price controls to alleviate the plight of consumers. It said that:

“The consumers should not be left at the mercy of the free market. There should at least be some protection from skyrocketing prices during these times of crisis. That is government’s role, to protect consumers

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas says that “there is an actual rice crisis aggravated by an artificial one”, which concludes that:

It is crystal clear that there is an actual crisis that is why Malacanang is trying to increase our rice stock through importation. The rice cartel or the Binondo 7 knows this and that is the reason why they are hoarding and increasing their prices. Now, importing more rice from other countries will only make matters worse because there is no more rice supply in the world market available for export and second a food security program based on imports is not food security at all. It will only make us more dependent on other countries and hold our food security hostage to other interests. What we need now are immediate rice price controls and at least a 25 percent increase in the local procurement of rice of the NFA, so that the cartel cannot get their hands on the April-June harvest. These are our only chance to stave off the rice crisis until we implement genuine agrarian reform, so that this will not happen again

KMP chair and former Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano meanwhile said that President Arroyo is lying about her knowledge of the situation, citing government memoranda issued in Feb 2008. The memoranda, said Mariano,  also made a forecast of the tightening rice supply and skyrocketing prices.

Government has recently announced P5-billion in new emergency farm subsidies, but House Deputy Minority Leader Satur Ocampo says there are better ways of using the money than by merely importing rice from abroad. Ocampo says the money should be used to buy rice and palay from Filipino farmers, which the government is not doing in big terms for the longest time.

Ocampo also said that the Palace-ordered hike in palay prices may be futile since the National Food Authority’s share in national rice procurement stands at only at one percent.

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