Press Release
April 28, 2008


Changing the mandate of the National Food Authority in the midst of the on-going rice crisis would only worsen the situation for both the public and the government, Senator Chiz Escudero today said.

This after President Gloria Arroyo told the foreign paper Wall Street Journal that she is "considering rolling back the government's direct role in subsidizing expensive rice imports".

Arroyo said if the price of rice stayed high, NFA's mandate might eventually be changed to allow the private sector to import more rice.

Escudero cautioned the president from implementing this plan in this trying time as it could exacerbate the skyrocketing rice prices the public is already experiencing.

"I hope Mrs. Arroyo is not thinking of implementing this change in the middle of the crisis. The timing is very bad. Even with a subsidized current NFA rice price, the public still cringes with the high prices of the daily staple".

"If you hastily forfeit the subsidy being given by the NFA now, the public will experience a double price shock. Changing the mandate in the middle of a yet-to resolve problem is like a captain abandoning his crew and his ship in a sea mishap".

Escudero said what the government needs to do now is to focus its efforts and resources into stabilizing market prices and aiding the agricultural sector to be self sufficient before it embarks again on policy changes which could rock the already giddy boat.

While the senator believes that the NFA needs policy facelift, now is not the time to do it. "The NFA should really be overhauled because of the inefficiency and corruption that has long been plaguing its system. I also concur that policies should be changed to address the absence of or lack of fund in the agency, but timing is of the essence. Our government should first prioritize the immediate need of the people today and that is to afford the public food on their table through price stability and agricultural self sufficiency" Escudero ended.

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