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EDITORIAL - Rice hoarders.

EDITORIAL - Rice hoarders !-- -- (The Philippine Star) - September 4, 2018 - 12:00am As rice prices continue to rise and supplies are depleted in certain parts of the country, President Duterte has warned that he would order military and police personnel to conduct the raids. The President, on a visit to Israel, also stressed that there is no rice shortage in the Philippines.

Joint teams of the National Food Authority and Bureau of Customs have in fact been conducting periodic raids on warehouses where smuggled or hoarded rice stocks are believed to be stored. The question is whether any rice smuggler or hoarder has ever been prosecuted, convicted and punished.

As in other offenses, impunity reigns when no one is penalized for wrongdoing. The country has enough laws against smuggling, and there are laws against economic sabotage that perhaps can be applied against rice traders who hoard the grains to manipulate prices.

Some quarters have pointed out the difficulty in proving rice hoarding and cartel-type business operations. If there is such difficulty, the problems should be addressed by lawmakers in coordination with agriculture officials, who should know what loopholes can be plugged through legislation.

Apart from the rice traders, the government must run after anyone who might be abetting the smuggling and hoarding, including Customs personnel. The public can do its part by being vigilant and reporting potential cases of hoarding.

To facilitate this, the government must provide a hotline where such reports can be coursed, and ensure that action will be prompt. For many years now, there have been regular reports of smuggling, hoarding and price manipulation in the rice industry.

As long as no one is indicted, prosecuted, convicted and sent to prison, no lessons will be learned, and the problem will persist.

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Publication:Philippines Star (Manila, Philippines)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Sep 3, 2018
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