• Plot to create artificial rice shortage bared

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    The National Food Authority (NFA) has declared that the country has sufficient rice supplies and that there is no reason for the price of rice to increase.

    The agency issued the statement after it received reports that some groups are again planning to launch a disinformation campaign in a bid to establish a bogus rice shortage scenario.

    NFA spokesman Rex Estoperez said that the plan includes the distribution of thousands of sacks of rotten rice in various public markets using the NFA label in order to discredit the agency.

    “The move as like hitting two birds with one stone, because the saboteurs could now dispose off their old rice stocks while also discrediting the agency’s leadership,” he said.

    The plot is also reportedly intended to divert the public’s attention away from the continuing probe on the rampant rice smuggling in the country involving some officials of the Bureau of Customs and several other personalities.

    “Tinitiyak namin sa publiko na tanging ang kapakanan nila ang nasa isip namin kaya kailanman ay hindi kami maglalabas ng mga bigas na alam naming makakasama sa kanilang kalusugan [We assure the public that we are always thinking of their welfare. That is why we will never sell rice that we know will harm them],” Estoperez said.

    He explained that the NFA has no reason to distribute rotten rice because the agency’s rice supply comes from newly milled rice crops harvested in 2012 and 2013.

    Besides this, the NFA also increased its buffer stock with rice imported from other countries under government-to-government agreements, he claimed.

    Estoperez also explained that in December last year, some 450,000 sacks of rice equivalent to 22,500 metric tons (MT) already arrived in the country from Vietnam.

    The shipment was part of the 500,000 MT of rice that was bought from Vietnam under a government-to-government agreement, to ensure that the country would have sufficient rice supply following a series of calamities that hit the country during the latter part of last year.

    The remaining 380,000 MT of rice is expected to arrive in the country any time during the first quarter of the year.

    Estoperez also stressed that the agency’s rice stocks are of the highest quality because NFA personnel regularly monitor the quality of the agency’s stocks based on the required regulations and standards.

    He added that their quality assurance officers and internal auditing department regularly monitor and assess stocks that are stored in the agency’s warehouses.

    “Our stocks need to pass our standards. If our monitoring team determines that they are of inferior quality, warehouse managers will be accountable to us and we will not release these stocks,” Estoperez explained.

    He said that there is no reason for the public to believe the lies being peddled by the saboteurs who have no other motive but to discredit the good performance of the current NFA leadership.

    They also vowed to go after all those who will be found trying to sabotage the operations of the agency.

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