Aquino clique earning billions from rice importation amid soaring prices

By CPP Information Bureau

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today condemned the ruling Aquino regime and its slew of corrupt bureacuratic officials for pocketing billions of pesos in overpriced rice importation contracts, amid its failure to address the continuing rise in the price of rice that has resulted in grave hardships for the people.

The CPP called on the Filipino people to hold the Aquino regime responsible for entering into anomalous rice importation contracts while failing to extend substantial support to the peasant masses to help increase domestic rice production.

The average price per kilo of rice has risen by at least two pesos over the past several days. This comes on top of the sharp PhP8-10 increase in the average price of rice under the Arroyo regime. There has also been a sharp increase in the prices of garlic, as well as a steady increase in the prices of sugar, ginger and other food items.

“Contrary to claims that his regime will work for rice self-sufficiency, Aquino has, in fact, perpetuated the Arroyo policy of rice importation as this has proven to be one of the biggest source of bureacrat capitalist profit,” said the CPP. Philippine rice imports are set to reach 2 million tons for 2013-14, up by 33% from 1.5 million tons during the previous period.

“The Aquino regime’s claims that the rise in the prices of rice and other commodities is only ‘temporary’ is a vain attempt to defend its agricultural liberalization and deregulation policies,” said the CPP. “The increase in the prices of rice puts to the fore the failure of the Aquino regime to deliver on its declared objective of attaining rice self-sufficiency and ending dependence on rice importation.”

“The Aquino regime has instead chosen to continue to carry out massive rice importation in order to pocket scandalous amounts of kickbacks,” said the CPP. It cited the contract signed by Agriculture Sec. Prospero Alcala with VINAFOOD II of Vietnam to supply the Philippines with 800,000 tons of rice from May to August this year. The Metro Manila Vendors Association noted that the contract sets freightage rates at $54 per ton ($30 above prevailing rates). Secretary Alcala is set to pocket P1.048 billion in kickbacks from this contract. He is also accused of pocketing P457.2 billion in a similar rice importation contract with Vietnam in May 2013.

“Secretary Alcala remains among Aquino’s most trusted official despite having been involved in several corruption cases,” said the CPP. Aquino has refused to heed widespread clamor for Alcala’s removal from the agriculture department.

“The liberalization of agricultural trade has led to rampant rice smuggling, much of which is controlled by big compradors in the rice cartel, which have long controlled rice supply and trade in the Philippines,” said the CPP. “The local rice cartel, in collaboration with the Aquino regime, has insidiously manipulated the supply of rice in the domestic market in order to push up prices, and in turn, provide the government with justification for further importing rice.”

“The continued rise in the price of rice and other basic food items will further push up the basic costs of living and cause greater hardships for the toiling masses of workers, peasants, the semi-proletariat and the middle class of ordinary income earners,” said the CPP.