MILITANT farmers on Wednesday accused the ruling Liberal Party of premature campaigning and using government resources to test the public response to a 2016 ticket of Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and food security czar Francis Pangilinan, after the two officials led high-profile raids on rice hoarders.
“It’s all for show. Obviously, the so-called raids by the Liberal Party’s standard bearer for 2016 on alleged warehouses of rice hoarders is a build-up for the State-of-the-Nation Address and the 2016 polls,” said Rafael Mariano, chairman of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.
The farmers’ group said the raids did not result in a decline in rice prices, which have risen sharply.
“President Benigno Aquino III must be truthful in his SONA report,” Mariano said, adding that Roxas and Pangilinan did not find any locally produced rice in the bodegas of the National Food Authority, but only imported rice that has pushed prices up further.
Mariano said the “photo ops” on the raids were designed by Malacanang spin-doctors to cover up the governments inability to stabilize rice prices.
Mariano said a photo of Roxas carrying a sack of rice on his shoulder was “a cheap shot.”
He called for a real crackdown on big-time rice cartels, hoarders, profiteers and smugglers.
“We expect the landlord-President to brag about these so-called raids during his SONA without mentioning that these publicity stunts had failed to bring down the rice prices,” Mariano said.
“The rice cartels coddled and protected by the Aquino administration are the very same rice importers and price manipulators. The rice cartels’ cornering the bulk of imported rice courtesy of the NFA, the
NFA’s lack of participation in local palay procurement, and the lack of price controls, are among the causes of rice price hikes,” he said.
“Farmers and consumers want to see real raids on rice cartels’ bodegas, prosecution of rice cartels and rice smugglers, price control measures, and a complete reversal of the Aquino government’s rice trade liberalization policy,” Mariano said.
He added that the publicity stunt did nothing to enhance the popularity of Roxas or Pangilinanan.
“It is only aimed at pacifying the Filipino people’s anger but not their hunger,” Mariano said.
“Their premature campaigning using government resources will surely contribute to the increasing political isolation of Aquino and boomerang adversely on his 2016 bets,” Mariano added.
Also on Wednesday, Senator Grace Poe said she had not made up her mind about running for higher office in 2016, after she was quoted as saying she was open to running alongside her friend, Senator Francis Escudero.
“I would like to clarify an online report about my plans to run for 2016. While I may have been less than categorical on the matter, the fact remains that I have not made any plans to run for higher office,” she said in an ANC interview.
During the interview, Poe declined to say if she is willing to be the vice-presidential candidate of Vice President Jejomar Binay.
She said she has not been contacted by Binay’s camp or the United Nationalist Alliance.
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