Lawmakers want life imprisonment for rice hoarding, profiteering

TO ENSURE the nation’s food security and prevent future artificial rice shortage, a lawmaker insists that the act of rice hoarding and profiteering be declared as a crime of economic sabotage.

“The State must ensure food security/sufficiency to meet the needs of the people and should penalize hoarding and profiteering especially in time of disasters and calamities,” Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Abante Mindanao Party-list Rep. Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. declared.

The Cagayan de Oro City lawmaker proposes under HB 2733, referred to and under consideration by the House Committee on Justice, that rice hoarding and profiteering be declared a crime of economic sabotage to be penalized by life imprisonment and a fine of P100,000.

As food staple, rice dominates the diet of roughly half the world’s population, most of them poor, the authors noted.

“Ironically for us, the Philippines has 14 million hectares of agricultural lands, yet we still import rice. There were times we experienced rice shortage because of rising fuel prices, flooding due to climate change, development of farmlands for homes and even gold courses, reduced global stocks, rising affluence throughout Asia and Africa and pest outbreak in Vietnam, the world’s second largest rice exporters after Thailand,” they pointed out.

To aggravate the situation, Rodriguez said rice farmers and traders, taking advantage of the situation, are hoarding rice.

“It is just timely not to wait until another rice shortage hits the country, whether artificial or not, for government to move and act to prevent such food crisis affecting mostly poor families that can’t afford the rising prices,” the authors stressed.


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