Press Release
April 11, 2008


Senator Mar Roxas criticized the government for its knee-jerk reactions to the rice crisis that have set off adverse effects on the rest of the food chain and that are stoking the emotions of the people.

"It is clear that the government doesn't know what it is doing. Until now, the administration has not acknowledged that we do have a rice crisis which affects Filipino families across the nation," he said, adding that the prices of oil, rice and other food commodities are all inter-connected.

Philippine bakers have recently announced they will hike pan de sal prices by P0.50 centavos each. This, as the price of wheat--which is not being produced locally--has increased steeply in the world market.

"Hindi lang presyo ng pandesal ang tataas kung hindi pati ang palaman sa pandesal dahil sa kabuuan, ang presyo ng pagkain at langis sa daigdigang merkado ay pataas din ng pataas," Roxas explained.

"In normal times, the workingman's breakfast is a choice between pan de sal or a bowl of lugaw in a nearby market. But now he is caught in a rut, because both items have become more expensive," he said.

Roxas added that prices of processed and canned meats would also go up due to several factors, such as tighter quantitative restrictions on imported meat, increasing prices of locally-produced meat and of tin cans as well as higher transport costs due to soaring oil prices. Prices of meat are also affected by the decreasing supply and increasing costs of feeds, such as wheat and corn.

"At the same time, the government is inviting public indignation by randomly announcing raw ideas without prior consultations with the sectors who are concerned and affected," he said.

"President Arroyo has to take charge, be open to the people and gather the whole national team together to bear upon this multi-faced challenge," he said.

The senator lamented the administration's preoccupation with deceptive visuals - only a few lining up for cheap rice, stacks of rice in NFA warehouses, repacking of rice into smaller bags, the use of indelible ink, and soldiers as distributors of rice stocks--that only aggravate public anxieties instead of allaying them.

"Magpakatotoo tayo. Due to the high commercial prices of rice, the NFA's limited supply of cheaper varieties of rice will never be enough to feed our hungry population," Roxas said.

The president of the Liberal Party said the government can heed the people's call for immediate relief by suspending the 12% VAT on oil and petroleum products.

"Matagal na naming isinusulong ito, pero dahil ayaw ito ng administrasyon, hindi ito umuusad sa mababang kapulungan. Ngayong may krisis, mas kailangan ng taumbayan ang perang ipinahiram nila sa gobyerno (We've been advocating this for a long time already, but it has not progressed in the House because the administration does not want it. Now that there's a crisis, the people now need the money that they lent the government through taxes)," he said.

"Hindi na puwedeng tingi-tingi ang mga solusyon ng gobyerno, dahil tali-tali ang ating mga problema (We can't live on the government's band-aid solutions because our problems are inter-related and affect each other)," he said.

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