Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rice imports flood RP: legalized sabotage

President Noynoy Aquino's first State of the Nation address is frank, brutal and gives us just a slice of Philippine reality. I describe it as a story of how a group of Filipinos managed to systematically use existing laws to enrich themselves while in office. I call this "legalized thievery".

Consider how former Agriculture secretary and now Bohol Congressman Arthur Yap justified the excessive importation of rice from Vietnam. Like what his former boss said, Yap told the public that he looked at the horizon and found nothing irregular. For Yap, we are not swimming in rice. Where is the rice?

Like Pontius Pilate, Yap practically washed his hands off the scandal. He was just following orders. There was a study that says we need to import rice. So, that's what he did.

Karen Davila then revealed warehouses full of rice, most of them rotting and most were imported as far back as 2008.

I remember that year. It was the time when government said, there is a shortage of rice stocks and they need to import rice. Billions of pesos were spent to get these rice stocks from our neighbours and what did the government do about these millions of rice sacks? They hauled them to warehouses and left to rot.

What is the rationale behind this? Why did the NFA hid those sacks of rice? Simple. They want to force the market to raise the prices of rice. If they flooded the market back then with rice, then, prices of the staple food would have been lower than what it is now.

What government did was plain and simple economic sabotage. They did what local flour suppliers did---they tried to be the biggest rice mafia by simply controlling importation.

Now, if President Noynoy's revelation is correct, then, what government should do right now is simply try to "purify" these rice stocks and, distribute it to the markets. This will effectively lower the price of the staple product. The more rice stocks enter the market, the lower prices will become.

The new administration now has the power to influence market prices for the benefit of the public.

By the way, let us encourage Senator Loren Legarda to continue her campaign to investigate this scandal and come up with a report on how government should do to correct this criminal act.