Press Release
June 2, 2008

Loren warns of humanitarian crisis in Mindanao
Bats for equitable distribution of rice among regions

Senator Loren Legarda urged today the government to ensure equitable distribution of rice in all of the country's regions to stabilize the staple's price nationwide and not only in Luzon.

Legarda warned of massive hunger and a possible humanitarian crisis hitting the people of Mindanao if the price of commercial rice in the region continues to hover between P40 to P50 a kilo.

"It's possible that too big a portion of the rice produced in Mindanao is being shipped to Luzon and the Visayas, thus leaving almost nothing for Mindanaoans," said Legarda.

"The lack of supply, of course, jacks up prices. The government must act fast to correct this," she stressed, saying the National Food Authority (NFA) must ship more government-subsidized rice to the region.

She said a mechanism must also drawn up to regulate the distribution of staple food among the country's regions to avert wild price disparities borne by artificial shortages.

Legarda cited as example commercial rice which is now selling in the P30-peso range in Luzon, but is reported to be hitting price highs of up to P51 a kilo.

"Something's definitely wrong when there's a P20 disparity in the price of a commodity within a country," she said.

The senator urged all concerned government agencies led by the Department of Trade and Industry and local government units to look into the problem more deeply to come up with lasting solutions.

She said that not one region of the country must be marginalized in terms of government service and in the distribution of the country's resources.

"That's the main cause of social discontent. When there's a wide disparity between the rich and poor, and when one region is left behind development-wise."

NFA rice sells at P18.25 a kilo across the regions, but plans are afoot to replace NFA rice with Thai importations selling at P25 a kilo.

"Why replace rice selling at P18.25 a kilo with something selling at P25 per kilo? For me, NFA rice should continue to sell at P18.25 or even lesser."

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