- Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala belied claims of rice shortage in North Cotabato
- He says Region XII has actually enough supplies due to ample gov’t intervention
- He also said leftist groups used the farmers as pawns
MANILA, Philippines – With tensions still simmering over the bloody dispersal in Kidapawan City which left at least three farmers dead, the Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala belied the protesters’ accusations the province of North Cotabato was in a state of calamity due to the ongoing El Niño.
In an interview with GMA News, Alcala wondered why the protesters were claiming there was a rice shortage when records show there was actually enough supplies to go around in Region XII.
Alcala, who said the region enjoys 120 percent food sufficiency, quoted the National Food Authority (NFA) as saying it had a 14-day buffer stock of rice.
According to him, the price of rice and palay should have shot up if there really was a shortage as the protesters claimed. However, there was none.
He said he felt sorry for the farmers who were deceived into joining the protests by individuals with vested interests.
“Ang talaga pong pagkakamali dito ay mayroon tayong ilang kababayan siguro na hindi iniisip ‘yung kapakanan ng kababayan na minislead po nila at sinabing may magbibigay ng bigas although alam naman po nila na wala po talagang ganung sitwasyon,” he said.
[The real mistake here is we have some compatriots who maybe were not thinking about the welfare of their peers whom they misled into thinking they’ll be given rice even though they know we haven’t reached that situation yet.]
Pointing to the presence of some rallyists who brought pro-leftist placards with them, Alcala said he felt sorry for the farmers who were used as pawns.
“Ako po ay naaawa sa ibang kababayan natin na napagsamantalahan,” he said.
[I feel sorry for our countrymen who were exploited.]