Mayor Beng Climaco defended yesterday the declaration, placing Zamboanga City under continued state of calamity despite a call by certain quarters to have it lifted.
Climaco said the prevailing prices of commercial rice have not yet stabilized with the highest at P70 per kilo in certain remote villages as of Aug. 29.
Secondly, she explained, the rice supply is not yet fully stable despite the presence of rice from the National Food Authority (NFA). “Everything is not stable yet at this time, thus we need the continued state of calamity,” the mayor said.
According to her, even Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol has said during her visit to the city last week that he would leave to the local government unit the declaration of a state of calamity notwithstanding his pronouncement that the rice crisis in the city was over with the shipment of NFA rice.
‘The state of calamity will protect us, guide us from ensuring that the prices of rice will go down to minimum level,” she said, while noting that there are movements in the prices but surprisingly the P70/kilo has not gone down yet in certain far flung areas.
Rest assured, the mayor said, the price monitoring team continues to make the rounds of the market and other places to make sure rice traders will not take advantage of the situation.
In addition, the NFA continues to conduct the “Tagpuan” store in the barangays where NFA rice is sold at P27 a kilo, and more NFA rice will be downloaded in the public markets.
The chief executive also defended the proposal to set up a rice trading center, where smuggled rice apprehended by the Bureau of Customs, will be sold after being taxed.
This, she said, is one measure to stop smuggling activities.-(Vic Larato)