A Catholic bishop in the northern Philippines called on the government to address the rampant smuggling and hoarding of rice that resulted in higher prices in the market.
“We pray that our leaders find a just solution to the issues of smuggling, hoarding and the high price of rice,” said Bishop Roberto Mallari of San Jose in Nueva Ecija province.
“We pray, Lord hear the cry of the poor who always struggle to find food in their daily life,” said the prelate in a prayer broadcast over Radio Veritas 846.
Bishop Mallari said rice is a “daily necessity” and “rice is life” for the Filipino people.
The Bureau of Customs has earlier intercepted a shipment of 38,400 tons of rice worth PhP1 billion in the province of Iloilo on suspicion of smuggling.
The Federation of Free Farmers, meanwhile, reported the rampant undervaluation of rice imports that supposedly shortchanged the government by as much as PhP3.84 billion as of end July.
Data from the bureau showed that from January to June, 85 percent of the 2.28 million tons of imported rice were undervalued by an average of PhP5,664 per ton.