News Flash

September 01, 2015, Tuesday
  • CBCP calls on Catholics not to support same-sex marriage. 9 hours ago |
  • 5 mountaineers drown in Nagsasa Creek in San Jose, Tarlac on Monday afternoon. 9 hours ago |
  • Phivolcs records 5 tremors in areas in Southern Mindanao. 9 hours ago |
  • Petron to implement a P 2.25/kilo rollback on the price of LPG on Tuesday. 9 hours ago |
  • Sandiganbayan issues hold departure orders vs. Fmr. Agusan Del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza & 7 others linked to pork barrel scam. 9 hours ago |
  • Binay’s camp claims De Lima is prioritizing political ambition over the resolution of PDAF and SAF 44 cases. 9 hours ago |
  • Binay’s camp calls on Justice Sec. Leila de Lima to resign. 10 hours ago |
  • DILG Sec. Mar Roxas says gov’t & INC leaders have been in contact with one another since the beginning of the rally at DOJ. 10 hours ago |
  • Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda says INC’s protest peacefully ended through goodwill and convergence of efforts. 10 hours ago |
  • Deputy Pres’l Spokesperson Abigail Valte says talks between gov’t & INC centered on clarification of issues & concerns. 10 hours ago |
  • Palace says there has been no deal made between gov’t and Iglesia ni Cristo. 10 hours ago |
  • Pres. Aquino led the National Heroes’ Day commemoration at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City. 14 hours ago |
  • Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda thanks the INC for ending its 5-day protest rally. 14 hours ago |
  • 9 killed in a collision between a multicab & a truck before dawn Monday in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat. 14 hours ago |
  • Pres. Aquino calls on people to unite & set aside personal interests during his message on National Heroes’ Day. 14 hours ago |
  • Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares says the right of expelled INC Minister Isaias Samson Jr. to file a complaint must be respected. 14 hours ago |
  • CIBAC Party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna says DOJ must continue hearing the complaint of expelled INC Minister Isaias Samson Jr. 14 hours ago |
  • Fire kills 6 stay-in workers in a bakery in Taal, Batangas. 14 hours ago |
  • Clean-up of area around EDSA-Shaw Boulevard ongoing following 5 days of INC’s protest. 15 hours ago |
  • Traffic flow now moving along EDSA-Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City. 15 hours ago |
  • Some INC members still trooped to DOJ early Monday morning & left only after INC’s announcement that the protest was over. 15 hours ago |
  • Commuters who were at EDSA-Mandaluyong area about 6 am Monday experienced monstrous traffic jam due to INC rally. 15 hours ago |
  • INC members rejoiced upon hearing their leaders’ announcement at about 8 am Monday that they are ending the protest. 15 hours ago |
  • LRTA says the remaining value stored in the magnetic cards can be transferred to beep cards. 15 hours ago |
  • LRT-2 removes from all its stations the gates for magnetic cards as it paves the way for beep cards. 15 hours ago |
  • Registration for 2016 polls continues in selected malls in the provinces. 15 hours ago |
  • Comelec reminds public to register for 2016 elections before deadline comes on October 31. 15 hours ago |
  • Rains forecast over Central Luzon, Bicol, Isabela, Quirino, Rizal and Quezon. 15 hours ago |
  • Possibility of the LPA near Baler, Aurora developing into a storm remote. 15 hours ago |
  • LPA located at sea 390 kms. east southeast of Baler, Aurora. 15 hours ago |
  • INC evangelist Bienvenido Santiago says INC is concluding its protest as it has reached an understanding with gov’t. 16 hours ago |
  • Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) ends its protest at EDSA-Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City. 16 hours ago |

Buying from rice smugglers

By Val Abelgas | Feb. 14, 2013 at 12:01am
While we want to praise President Aquino and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala for the increased production in rice the past year that, they said, would eventually lead to the Philippines becoming a rice exporter by 2014, we could not help but be alarmed by claims made by Abono chairman Rosendo So that the country faces a rice crisis because of an oversupply of the staple.

After being the world’s largest rice importer to becoming a country that now faces oversupply of rice, shouldn’t So and the farmers be happy that they could become exporters by next year?

Apparently, the farmers have increased their yield the past two years, but are unable to sell their produce at a profitable price because smuggled rice from China and Vietnam have flooded the market. The increased production and rampant smuggling have resulted in oversupply and huge losses for the farmers, and hefty profits for the rice cartels and the rice smugglers.

So, instead of the Filipino farmers benefiting from their increased production, they are left with rice that they are forced to sell at a losing price to at least regain some of their costs. Or maybe the Department of Agriculture plans to solve the rice problem by exporting the rice produced by the farmers and letting the smugglers supply the country’s needs. Good for the farmers, bad for government and the consumers.

For years, the country has been importing rice from rice-producing countries such as China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand to meet the food requirements of the country’s 92-million rice-eating people. There was a time when the Philippines was one of the biggest rice-producing countries in the world but for some reason, the country started lagging behind.

Up to the seventies, the Philippines was ahead of its neighbors in rice production. During those times, students from neighboring countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia came to the Philippines to study in the International Rice Research Institute and the University of the Philippine College of Agriculture, both In Los Baños.

Looking back, rice production in the country reached its peak during the time of President Marcos with the building of irrigation dams, farm-to-market roads and other infrastructure, and the government’s full support to farmers.

Rice production fell to the global trend towards industrialization, the market inequities brought about by trade liberalization, the rise of the trade cartels, the loss of agricultural lands to subdivisions and industries, the inconsistencies in climate brought about by the El Nino phenomenon, and the rise of graft and corruption.

The rise of the rice cartels delivered the deathblow because the farmers were forced to sell at very low prices to these monopolies. While the farmers sold their produce at very low prices to these cartels, the latter jacked up rice prices because they controlled the supply. The government tried to intervene by putting up the National Grains Authority, (which later became the National Food Authority) which was mandated by law to buy directly from the farmers to resell to the public at affordable prices.

But corruption soon seeped into the agency, and instead of selling the rice to legitimate vendors, unscrupulous NFA personnel diverted the grains to the rice cartels.

The rice cartels continue to profit from this arrangement, but have become bolder. They now apparently smuggle billions of pesos worth of rice from China and Vietnam and bring them into the country obviously with the help of corrupt Customs officials.

The Abono chairman said the nation is facing a rice crisis not because of shortage of produce but because of oversupply. Smuggled rice has been flooding the market, and millers cannot buy from local farmers because their warehouses are filled to the rafters, he said.

“Where will the farmers go now with the harvest season and no one is buying? The smugglers are killing the industry,” So complained as he urged the President to go after the smugglers.

So lamented that the NFA allotted only P10.9 billion for the procurement of 615,985 metric tons of palay from farmers this year, which, he said, is just three percent of the expected total harvest of 20.4 million metric tons this year.

He said if the government is really serious in helping farmers, they must increase the volume to 30 percent or at least P105 billion worth of palay.

But I don’t think the government is ready to listen to their plight. In fact in September 2011, then NFA chief Lito Banayo even suggested that the country should abandon its goal of achieving self-sufficiency in rice and encouraged farmers instead to plant “high-value” crops such as fruits and vegetables.

Banayo added that the country cannot hope to compete with rice-importing countries such as Cambodia and Vietnam, which have largely flat lands, have rivers crossing through rice lands, and are rarely visited by typhoons.

Obviously, Banayo was content with the Philippines depending on other countries for its rice requirements, which made us wonder why an agency that was supposed to help farmers by buying their produce was suddenly discouraging them from planting rice. It’s a good thing the government did not listen to Banayo because the people would then be completely at the mercy of the rice cartels, aka rice smugglers.

For all the boasts of the Aquino administration that it had curbed corruption in government, it has apparently failed to make a dent in what has always been perceived the most corrupt agencies in the government, including the Bureau of Customs. While we believe that Commissioner Ruffy Biazon is exerting his best efforts to go after unscrupulous men and women in his bureau, obviously his efforts are not enough to eliminate deep-rooted corruption in the agency.

Biazon should go after the rice smugglers and their cohorts in the bureau so that the farmers would be better motivated to help Secretary Alcala attain his goal of increasing the country’s rice output to the point where the Philippines would not only be self-sufficient in rice, but also become an exporter by 2014.


Val Abelgas is a former managing editor of Manila Standard. 
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Comments are views by readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with editorial standards, may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section
comments powered by Disqus

Want Updates?

Be the first to know on what is latest from, simply enter your email below to get started. We don’t spam dont worry!