Senator Imee Marcos has denounced the plan of the Philippine International Trading Corpo. to import rice in behalf of local fastfood chains, grocery stores, and small supermarkets.
Marcos expressed dismay that a government-owned corporation under the Department of Trade and Industry would prioritize imports over local produce when rice farmers nationwide have been selling their harvest at depressed prices or even at a loss.
“The announcement of Secretary [Ramon] Lopez is insensitive and ill-timed,” Marcos said.
She said cheaper imported rice is not worth a breakdown in the livelihood of Filipino rice farmers.
The DTI chief announced the plan to import rice for select businesses at an international rice conference in Makati earlier this week and also said that as many as 300 containers could be shipped to the country in the next few months.
“Where is our conscience and what got into the heads of these businessmen who choose foreign goods over our very own at a time of crisis?” Marcos asked.
“Have pity on our rice farmers who could hardly make a living. Just drop it!” Marcos fumed.
Meanwhile, Senator Francis Pangilinan said Filipinos should all be deeply worried by news that the Philippines has surpassed China as the world’s biggest importer of rice.
He said this means that the country has become perilously dependent on other nations for its everyday food, (“sa ating araw-araw na sinaing.”)
“We are set to reach a record-high three million metric tons of rice imports this year while China is only importing 2.5 million metric tons,” Pangilinan said.
“What will happen to if other countries would not sell rice to us?” he asked.
He said this food insecurity is aggravated by the impact of rice imports on the farmers.
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