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Marcos to file Senate resolution on Monday

Senator Imee Marcos expressed alarm that the National Food Authority (NFA) has “completely lost its way” amid a cutback in the global rice supply.

“The Philippines is now the world’s largest rice importer and the dire market situation today will only worsen in the coming months,” she warned, citing El Niño weather disturbances and rice-exporting countries prioritizing their domestic needs.

Marcos will file a Senate resolution Monday to investigate the NFA’s “highly suspicious” PhP93.75-million sale of 75,000 bags of rice stock to two traders as countless consumers clamored for cheaper rice.

“The NFA was also at the forefront of buying rice from India. Bakit sila nauwi duon eh bawal na bawal sa charter nila na sila ang mag-import (Why did they end up there when their charter strictly prohibits them from importation)?” she pointed out.

The senator recalled that her late father, former President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, established the NFA in 1972 to buy palay from local farmers, stabilize rice prices for the Filipino consumer, and ensure a sufficient buffer stock for calamities.

However, the agency has repeatedly fallen short of its required buffer stock and been unable to cope with higher farmgate prices of palay, which rose to as high as 27 pesos per kilo last year.

Although palay’s farmgate price has dipped to 23 pesos, the NFA had earlier pegged its capacity to subsidize local farmers at only 17 to 19 pesos per kilo.

Marcos said the NFA has been unable to support all local farmers desperate for aid, especially when rice smuggling forced them to sell their harvests below the cost of production.

In calling for an investigation, she emphasized that a thorough review of the NFA’s mandate was crucial to deal with a global rice shortage.