28 July 2010
Necessary, yes. But lacking and superficial.
This is how GABRIELA finds the formation of an investigative body to look into the irregularities in the rice procurement of the National Food Authority (NFA).
According to the group, Aquino’s posturing in his first State of the Nation Address can be likened to that of a whistle blower enumerating the dirty deeds of his predecessor, mostly of corruption and irregularities in various government agencies. His exposè on rice did not shock the nation any longer. What the people awaited—but was notably absent in his speech—was a decisive pronouncements on how he is to solve the problem and that the crooks responsible behind this plunder would be expeditiously prosecuted.
“We want to remind Aquino that he is a president and not a whistleblower. He needs to act on exacting justice, use the full force of the law to hold these thieves liable for the crime they committed as he promised the people. That the government hoards this vast amount of rice, rotting in warehouses, while the people are hard put in bringing even a handful of it on their tables is galling,” expressed Lana Linaban, secretary general of GABRIELA.
Lito Banayo, the newly appointed chief of the National Food Authority, said that “we’re swimming in rice,” and therefore “we need to study if our system of importation is right.” But the militant women’s group stressed that simply looking into the excessive importation is merely skimming the surface of the problem.
“It is not only the excesses and corruption—but the very policy of importation that is wrong. The new administration should go beyond the question of system and mechanism, and decisively scrap policies that prove to be anti-people, importation policy just one of the many,” Linaban challenged Aquino.
GABRIELA slams the unnecessary importation of rice done in pretext of crop shortage locally-produced, when in fact the influx of rice from outside is what is killing the local industry; putting our farmers to an even more disadvantageous position. This trade relation with other countries do not also provide boost to our economy through revenues as no tariff is imposed on the imported products.
GABRIELA support the demand of our farmers to develop local rice industry to progress, dismantle cartel controlled by few businesses, and scrap importation policy.
On the immediate, Linaban calls on the president to have the stored rice in NFA checked by experts to determine if it is still safe for consumption. “If it is, then it should be made available to the market the soonest time possible, much lower than the current lowest retail price of P25. That would give poor Filipino families relief, albeit temporary.”
Further, the group demands that instead of harping on a role of a whistle blower, Aquino should move swiftly and decisively to prosecute Arroyo and her minions. “He can only prove his sincerity in righting the wrongs of the past if he facilitates the immediate prosecution of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her minions in NFA and Department of Agriculture,” said Linaban. (Bulatlat.com)
Lana Linaban, secretary general
Public Information Department
GABRIELA National Office