A network of consumers has asked government to inspect the storage facilities at the Harbor Center Port Terminal Inc. (HCPTI) after reports circulated that rice is stored at the terminal without a permit from the National Food Authorty (NFA).
National Coalition of Filipino Consumers (NCFC) spokesperson BenCy Ellorin called on Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, to probe the allegation.
“Senator Villar should ensure that our consumers are protected. For the longest time, we have been receiving information that HCPTI has been keeping tons of NFA rice without accreditation from the NFA,” Ellorin said.
At the same time, the coalition urged the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police to raid warehouses storing rice with no NFA license.
“We are sure that it’s not only HCPTI but there are other unscrupulous businessmen who blatantly violate Republic Act No. 7581, or the Price Act,” he added.
NCFC said they have received reports of warehouses storing rice without a permit from NFA in Marilao town in Bulacan province and Muntinlupa.
“We have to ensure that Filipinos have enough food to eat. We want to arrest the syndicate manipulating prices in the market,” the group said.
At the Lower House, Tarlac 2nd district Rep. Susan Yap is pushing for stiffer penalties for rice or corn hoarders and profiteers
Yap filed House Bill 4677, which amends Republic Act 7581, or the Price Act that states that the acts of rice and corn hoarding and profiteering during calamities or emergencies will be classified as economic sabotage.
Under the measure, an Anti Rice or Corn Hoarding and Profiteering Task Force shall be established in every province, city and municipality to monitor the inventory level of all rice or corn mills, warehouses and stockhouses to determine their respective monthly stocks of rice or corn.