Macapagal-Arroyo regime is culpable for rice crisis

By NDFP International Information Office

 

“The Arroyo regime has aggravated and deepened the chronic crisis of the semi-colonial semi-feudal system by following the US-dictated policies of neoliberal globalization and state terrorism which have together bedevilled the countryside and the entire country. The bogus president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo deserves the Filipino people’s wrath for bringing the economy down to its knees and pushing millions of Filipinos to the harshest level of day-to-day survival. This is another highly just and reasonable ground for the people to demand Macapagal-Arroyo’s ouster.”

— FIDEL V. AGCAOILI, Chairman
NDFP Human Rights Monitoring Committee

By NDFP International Information Office

The Chairman of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Human Rights Monitoring Committee Fidel V. Agcaoili today said that the Macapagal-Arroyo regime is culpable for the worsening rice crisis. It has run counter to the people's demand for food security. It has gravely violated the people's social and economic rights by pursuing trade liberalization and causing the ruin of staple food production.

“The Arroyo regime has aggravated and deepened the chronic crisis of the semi-colonial semi-feudal system by following the US-dictated policies of neoliberal globalization and state terrorism which have together bedevilled the countryside and the entire country. The bogus president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo deserves the Filipino people’s wrath for bringing the economy down to its knees and pushing millions of Filipinos to the harshest level of day-to-day survival. This is another highly just and reasonable ground for the people to demand Macapagal-Arroyo’s ouster,” he said.

Agcaoili said that it is beyond the will and capacity of the Arroyo regime to solve the rice crisis because it insists on implementing the fatally twisted food and agriculture policies dictated by US imperialism and US-controlled international agencies like the WTO. He said that the regime's latest move to lower rice tariffs to bring in more rice imports is certain to exacerbate the country’s escalating problem of high rice prices because the big compradors aligned with the regime are cornering the imports and scheming to take advantage of the people. “At the same time, the imports will continue to make the people dependent on imports for its staple food and will discourage local rice production,” he continued.

“Despite the demand of farmers’ groups that rice importation be regulated and the local rice production industry be given stricter monitoring, the GRP and its retinue of so-called economic experts have made the problem worse by removing all rice importation restrictions: the almost complete dependence on rice imports is precisely the reason behind the worsening rice crisis,” he pointed out. “Because of massive land and crop conversion, thousands of hectares that used to be sown with rice are now planted with export crops and jathropa plants for biofuel.”

Agcaoili said that the GRP is lying through its teeth when it proclaims that rice importation will result in lowered rice prices. “The real immediate impact is even higher rice prices, the inevitable bankruptcy of millions of farmers, as well as seriously worsening the country’s food insecurity. Because of the prohibitive prices, more Filipinos will be forced to cut down on their already limited intake of rice which is their staple food. No one benefits from the removal of rice tariffs but the rice cartels.”

Agcaoili said that the lowering of the rice tariff ordered by Mrs. Arroyo does not necessarily mean the lowering of the price of rice. On the other hand, it is an all-out invitation for greedy comprador capitalists to exploit the rice crisis, allowing them to greater stranglehold on the price of rice and cement their monopoly over rice distribution.

The NDFP-MC Head also slammed the GRP for its continued collusion with international finance institutions/creditors such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank in liberalizing the agricultural sector and essentially cutting off subsidies and other support services for Filipino rice farmers.

“For all its posturing that it is tackling the rice crisis head-on out of concern for the economic welfare and survival of the Filipino people, it is clear that the Arroyo regime is deliberately utilizing and exploiting the rice crisis to maximize its liberalization program in the rice industry,” he said. “The GRP is hell-bent on privatizing the National Food Authority (NFA) and completely opening the food production industry to foreign monopolies and big compradors in compliance with its immoral obligations to the World Trade Organization (WTO) for agricultural restructuring.”

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