SAN JOSE CITY – Rice millers and traders in Nueva Ecija have refuted claims of rice hoarding allegedly being committed in the province as they took exception to statements recently issued by acting Agriculture Sec. William Dar attributing the decline of palay prices to unscrupulous millers and traders who took advantage of the implementation of the Rice Tarriffication Law by hoarding the staple grain in the local market.
Led by its president Elizabeth Mendoza-Vana, the Nueva Ecija Rice Millers Association denied the hoarding allegations earlier raised by Sec. Dar during an agriculture stakeholders’ forum held at the Marquez Restaurant on Wednesday.
Retired government prosecutor Danilo Yang, a farmer, and chairman of the Ugnayan ng Magsasakang Novo Ecijano (UMANE) said they gathered at the forum to touch base with the millers’ group and come out with a statement categorically denying the hoarding issue.
“Hindi dapat sana nagsasalita ang DA (Department of Agriculture) na bine-blame ang ating mga rice millers dito sa rice hoarding, unless na lang kung mayroon silang ebidensiya. Bakit hindi nila sampahan ng kaso ang mga ito, Yang,” a staunch Duterte supporter, told reporters in an interview.
City Mayor Mario “Kokoy” Salvador, also a rice miller himself being the owner of V.S. Gripal Rice Mill, echoed their group’s sentiment against rice hoarding. “Kaming mga rice mill owners, after each harvest season, may mga warehouse kami makikita mo ito, puno ng mga palay. Ang tawag dito ay buffer stocks at ito ay gamit para sa everyday na pangangailangan ng aming mga suki,” he said.
The city mayor pointed out that this buffer-stocking being done at the rice mill during every harvest season cannot be labeled as hoarding.
“Ang alam kong hoarding ay iyung itatago mo ang produkto, hindi mo ibebenta at ilalabas mo lang ito kung kailan mo gusto. Sa aming rice mill naman tuloy-tuloy at araw-araw ang mga transaksyon,” Salvador said.
Also present during the stakeholders’ forum were representatives from the National Food Authority, PhilMech, the Department of Agriculture, the Philippine Rice Research Institute, Land Bank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines, and members of farmers-groups and cooperatives, including the Juan Novo Ecijano Tapang at Malasakit Inc. represented by Boyet Amorin Jr.