President Gloria Arroyo gave blanket authority to the Department of Agriculture to import two million tons of rice from other countries. This is in preparation for a possible rice shortage next year of 2010 in the country.
The devastation brought about by typhoon Pepeng in Northern Luzon where acres of agricultural crops were destroyed. It was foreseen to cause the deficiency in rice supply next year.
Though the Department of Agriculture assured that there will be no shortage this year because of the buffer stock, it is possible that there will be a problem in rice supply next year.
However, the directive raised suspicions that this could be a vehicle for the widespread dealings of bribes or kickbacks from suppliers to the government people from DFA, and other connected agencies. Some lawmakers and citizens as well think that President Gloria Arroyo could have ordered not a blanket authority but an open bidding which is actually according to procedures of commodity importation such as the importation of rice.
Doubts surfaced because of the reported anomalies in the form of kickbacks when rice was imported from Vietnam by DFA this year. There were alleged overpricing and some government people gained from the kickbacks offered.
The Palace responded last October 12 that the government will be transparent in the dealings on rice importation for the next year. This is an expectation that is yet to be verified.
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