Press Release
October 19, 2010

Roll out excess NFA rice stocks to typhoon affected areas - Recto

The government has now found a justifiable excuse to distribute the idle rice stocks lying inside the warehouses of the National Food Authority (NFA) by donating it to victims of typhoon Juan, which battered most part of Northern Luzon Monday.

"From swimming in excess rice stocks, the NFA should give out the rice to typhoon victims who are practically swimming in flood waters and wading through debris swept by the fierce wind of typhoon Juan," Sen. Ralph G. Recto today said.

Recto said heads of affected local government units (LGUs) should be tapped to identify which barangays or families should be prioritized as rice beneficiaries.

"Instead of campaigning, village officials could organize house-to-house visits to inventory which of their affected constituents are missing, rendered homeless and hungry," he said.

He said the emergency rice distribution could also be directly held in many evacuation centers that have sprouted in affected areas in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

"The rice could be the equivalent of the cash conditional transfers (CCT) that DSWD plans to dispense with under its social programs," Recto said even as he lamented that rice stocks inside a DSWD warehouse in Isabela even got soaked by rain waters.

The senator said he was aware of the impact of typhoon's devastations to rice-producing areas in Northern Luzon such as Cagayan and Isabela provinces, which is expected to result to reduced rice output.

"The resulting rice supply problem could be addressed by prudent rice importation but the need of our countrymen in severely hit areas is immediate and the basic commodity that comes to mind is food such as the national staple," Recto explained.

He likewise noted that as per NFA reckoning, some 75,000 to 80,000 metric tons are ready to fill up the supply gap from Vietnam.

Before stepping down, the previous administration had arranged for the importation 2.4 million metric tons of rice for 2010.

The NFA excess rice stocks are held in 726 government warehouses and leased depots on top of the 30-day rice buffer.

Recto added no less than the NFA gave assurance that there is enough rice supply to last for many weeks in case a rice supply shortage looms.

"Concerned agencies should also be called in to check for rice hoarders and profiteers out to take advantage of the situation," he stressed.

The senator recalled that NFA was previously in a bind on what to do with the mountain of imported rice stocks that have piled up under the past administration that some of them were even found almost rotting in government warehouses.

The NFA initially planned to sell its excess rice stocks to LGUs and the DSWD for its daycare feeding and food-for-work programs.

"There's no better justification than helping typhoon victims. The rice could be converted as part of the government's relief and assistance arsenal during the post-typhoon restoration," he stressed.

"This is now the opportune time to bring out the rice stocks from the NFA warehouses and roll them out to areas where it would matter," Recto added.

Also affected by typhoon Juan were the provinces of Benguet, Kalinga, Ifugao, Mt. Province, Ilocos Norte, La Union and Pangasinan.

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