Press Release
September 6, 2013


SENATOR Cynthia A. Villar, chair of the senate committee on agriculture, on Friday said she would conduct a senate inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the increasing price of rice.

"We will call for an investigation into the increase in cost of rice anytime next week. In the process, we will also look into the smuggling of rice and onions, and the reported hoarding of rice by some groups," she said.

Villar said the senate inquiry is in consonance with Senate Resolution 233, filed by Senator Loren Legarda, seeking a senate inquiry on the actual state of rice supply.

Legarda said the increase in the price of rice could imply either an insufficient supply in the market or the presence of manipulative forces adversely affecting its price dynamics.

Since rice is our major staple food, Villar stressed that it should be readily available and affordable to all, especially the poor Filipinos.

"Rice sufficiency and affordability is among our concerns in the conduct of this Senate inquiry," she Villar said the inquiry would determine the factors behind the alarming hike in the cost of rice, and how can this be avoided.

She cited the need to review the government's existing policies and programs on rice self-sufficiency.

"Baka may mga kulang o kailangang baguhin sa kasalukuyang polisiya," she said.

The DA said the increases were a result of "artificial" shortages caused by rice millers and rice traders hoarding the food staple.

However, this was debunked by rice millers, and insisted that the shortage of palay has forced them to raise rice prices.

"Kaya kailangan din nating malaman kung meron bang hoarding gaya ng sinasabi ng DA o may kakulangan sa palay base naman sa pahayag ng rice millers. Lahat 'yan bubusisiin natin sa pagsisiyasat natin sa senado," she said.

Villar said the inquiry would also tackle the smuggling of rice and onion.

She said those involved in these illicit activities should be held accountable as their acts are detrimental to the economy, the local farmers and the consuming public.

"We should put an end to smuggling and rice hoarding, and punish the smugglers, their backers, financiers and all those involved," she said.

Villar said all concerned agencies like the Department of Agricutlure, the NFA, and the Bureau of Customs, among others will be asked to appear in the senate inquiry.

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