Zambo City declared under state of calamity due to rice shortage PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 21 August 2018 15:32

By R.G ANTONET GO

The City Council yesterday declared Zamboanga City under a state of calamity following the shortage and skyrocketing prices of commercial rice, an important and necessary legislative measure granting the city government the authority to implement price ceiling on rice and also to release mitigation funds from the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRM) for rice procurement and eventual distribution to the poor residents.

During its regular session yesterday, the local legislative body voted 11 to 4, with three members not present during the important deliberations, for the approval of the resolution declaring Zamboanga City under a state of calamity due to rice shortage and unabated increase in prices of commercial rice.

The members who voted in favor of the measure are Councilors Rommel Agan, Teodiver Arquiza, Jimmy Villaflores, Elbert Atilano, Rodolfo Bayot, Jihan Edding, Kim Elago, Tungkuh Hanapi, Cesar Jimenez, Josephine Pareja and Jerry Perez. While those who voted against are  Rodolfo Lim, Joselito Macrohon, Mike Alavar Myra Paz-Abubakar.

Prior to the state of calamity declaration, the City Council held a dialogue with officials of the concerned agencies and offices like the National Food Authority (NFA), City Administrator, City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Agriculture (DA), and City Agriculturist.

During the dialogue, several questions were raised regarding the status of rice shortage and high prices of commercial rice that the entire city is experiencing for several weeks now.

All the resources officials invited in the dialogue were one in saying that indeed the city is facing rice shortage and high prices of the commercial rice.

DTI provincial director Severino Rubio even complained that it seems that some rice traders are manipulating the prices of rice.

Most of the invited officials also recommended that one way of mitigating the effect of rice shortage is for Zamboanga City to be declared under the state of calamity.

“Once, the city is already declared under the state of calamity Mayor Beng Climaco, as head of the Local Price Monitoring Council, can have more authority in price monitoring and control. The mayor can also institute aggressive measures to fight against rice hoarding,” CDRRMO chief Elmier Apolinario.

District II Councilor Rodolfo Lim, who voted against the measure, stressed that declaring the city under the state of calamity will not solve the problem on rice shortage. He said that disaster or calamity funds from the city government cannot procure enough rice to be distributed to the poorest of the poor.

However, right after the dialogue, Councilor Edding, who chairs the committee on agriculture in the august body, proposed a resolution declaring Zamboanga City under the state of calamity due to evident rice shortage.

She pointed out that with the state of calamity declaration by the Council, which will be signed by Mayor Climaco, the rice shortage can be more or less controlled.

“The only way for us to address this situation immediately is for the declaration of a state of calamity para pwede kita automatically man impose price control,” Edding emphasized.

Mayor Climaco expressed gratitude to the august body for the declaration, stressing that the measure can really help address the problem of rice shortage here in the city.

With the declaration, the CDRMMO can utilize some P15 million from its calamity funds for the procurement of commercial rice, which will be immediately distributed to the poorest of the poor in the depressed communities in the city.

It can be recalled that the Local Price Coordinating Council headed by Mayor Climaco already convened last week where it recommended the need to impose a price ceiling on commercial rice after price of the staple food already reached to more than P60 per kilo.

The Local Price Coordinating Council also submitted the draft of the price ceiling to the mayor, and once approve, the DTI and the Department of Agriculture (DA) will finalize the draft and it shall be submitted to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for approval.

Based on the draft, the price of commercial rice will be pegged at P45 per kilo for three months and for the National Food Authority (NFA) to augment the supply of rice in Zamboanga City. If the price ceiling is violated, penalties are P1,000 to P300,000 and 1 year to 10 years imprisonment. (R.G. A A. Go wtih report from JEM)