CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY , Philippines – The National Food Authority-10 (NFA-10) has confirmed on Friday that there is no hoarding of rice at the Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT) sub-port in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, although the city government will still have to dig deeper to see if there are commercial grains dealers who may be stashing their rice supply to the detriment of consumers.
NFA-10 information officer Hazel Belacho said they have not received any report of rice hoarding either at the MCT or in private warehouses.
According to NFA-10 assistant regional director Apolinario Buerano, there is no reason for rice dealers to hoard their stocks of rice as “this is the best time to sell rice since the price in the market is high.”
“Why hoard it (rice) when now is the opportunity to sell it at a very good price?” he said.
Besides, Buerano said, the harvest season is near and fresh supply of rice will be flooding the local markets in the coming days.
To find out if that there is indeed hoarding, Belacho said the NFA has to prove that the grains dealers have an “unusual” accumulation of rice stocks in their warehouses.
But, she added, the NFA can double-check this as their field staff do regular visits of warehouses.
The rice dealers, in return, submit to the NFA their own inventory of stock for the agency to determine the number of rice sacks in their storage.
“If you see piles of rice bags inside the warehouse, it doesn’t mean that’s hoarding,” Belacho explained, adding that they will only suspect if there is a “holding back” of selling rice by the dealers, even if there is a sufficient stock.
Also, the NFA has assured the public that the agency has enough rice supply in their warehouses.
NFA assistant provincial manager for Misamis Oriental Samuel Natavio said they still have in their inventory about 187,000 bags of imported rice from Vietnam and Thailand that arrived this July.
According to the NFA, the daily rice consumption in Northern Mindanao is about 28,920 bags, with Camiguin having the highest demand for rice among the provinces in the region.
Meanwhile, the City Price Coordinating Council (CPCC) has affirmed the NFA-10 statement that there was no hoarding of rice at the MCT, echoing the earlier statement of the Bureau of Customs-10 (BOC-10) that they were not holding the 220,000 bags of imported food staple although they have acknowledged that there was a delay in its release due to the congestion at its examination area.
Members of the CPCC, the city council’s trade and commerce committee headed by Councilor George Goking, visited the MCT and its examination facilities in Tagoloan on Friday, Sept. 21.
In a statement to the press on Friday, BOC-10 Collector Floro Calixihan has denied the reports of rice hoarding at the sub-port in Tagoloan.
“We would like to set the record straight that there was no instance at this sub-port of alleged hoarding of rice,” Calixihan said.
“Truth is, there was slight delay in the X-ray scanning and physical examination of shipments at the Designated Examination Area (DEA) considering that at the time there was only one x-ray scanning unit that was being utilized,” he added.
Calixihan said BOC-10 has already released the thousands of bags of rice adding “there is no pending release of rice shipment at DEA.”
“We are very transparent in our transactions here. In fact, I am grateful that they took the time out to visit MCT,” he said.
With the utilization of the extra x-ray scanning unit, the bee line of shipment bound for x-ray scanning and physical examination has significantly trimmed down, said MCT sub-port Collector Elizabeth delas Llagas.
Delas Llagas said the consignees and importers of rice would certainly not allow the hoarding of their shipments due to the hefty storage fees they had to pay once their shipments had stayed at DEA as holding area.
City Councilor George Goking, for his part, said that with the allegation of rice hoarding at MCT now resolved, CPCC and his committee will continue their investigation with the commercial rice traders this time.
“We will inspect the warehouses of rice traders to see whether there is hoarding or not,” Goking said.(davaotoday.com)