Press Release
March 26, 2008

"Stop painting a rosy picture of the situation!"

With rice stocks at their lowest in the past twenty years, Senate Majority Leader and Independent senator Kiko Pangilinan today challenged Malacañang to "stop painting a rosy picture of the situation" and immediately institute long-term solutions to the looming rice crisis.

"Malacañang asserts confidence in the current situation because the Philippines is supposedly reliant only on 15% rice imports, and is 85% self sufficient on local rice production. But if these rice-exporting countries do not plan to supply us in the next 6 months due to shortage in their own supplies, how do we plan to boost our production? How do we ensure that Filipinos will have adequate rice supply as the rest of the world battles with the shortage." Kiko asked.

"We need to look into access of the poor, especially in the countryside, to Tindahan Natin outlets and NFA retailers. Are the poor able to avail of the supply that is really for their consumption? Do we have NFA supply in retail outlets? We have reports of Maguindanao, Negros Occidental, North Cotabato and even Caloocan City retail outlets wherein Tindahan Natin outlets run out of NFA rice, forcing the poor to purchase commercial rice for their daily needs. Inaccessibility of the poor to supposed subsidized rice only makes the pro-poor hunger mitigation and the rice programs ineffective." Kiko added.

"This is the worst time to be complacent. If this was an international trend, why were we not able to anticipate it and institute remedial measures to cushion its impact? We need to be transparent and tell things as they are so we can sit down and properly address the problem. No downplaying, withholding of information!" Kiko ended.

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