Vice President Leni Robredo joined Senator Bam Aquino anew in meeting poor Zamboanga City residents reeling under a rice shortage to hear directly from them the effects of the crisis on their livelihood and daily sustenance.
VP Leni and Senator Bam held a town hall dialogue dubbed “Kumustahang Bayan,” to listen to the woes of urban poor communities and market vendors bearing the brunt of the rice crisis at the Zamboanga City old public market on Wednesday, September 5, 2018.
This was the second time VP Leni and Senator Bam went together to urban poor communities to discuss different issues like rising food prices. In March, they also had a dialogue with the residents of Baseco in Manila.
At the Zamboanga’s main market, the two officials saw firsthand how the residents had to endure long queues for hours so they could buy cheaper rice.
NFA Rice is being sold at P32 per kilo, which is more affordable than the commercial rice sold at prices ranging from P50 to 70 per kilo. Also, residents are only allowed to purchase a maximum of five kilos of NFA rice per day.
During the discussion, Minang Lim, a market vendor, lamented that some poor residents had to resort to eating cassava as a replacement for rice at the height of the rice shortage in the city.
“Kaya po namin ginagawa ito na nandito, pinapakinggan kayo, para iyong boses ninyo iyong mapaabot. Alam niyo, mas malakas iyong boses niyo kaysa sa amin. Mas papakinggan iyong kuwento ninyo kaysa sa amin kasi ito iyong totoo eh. Ito iyong totoong nangyayari,” VP Leni said.
“Sisiguraduhin namin na iyong kuwento ninyo ngayon, mapapaabot natin kasi iyon naman iyong mahalaga,” VP Leni added.
For his part, Senator Bam assured the residents that they will continue to find ways to help ease the people’s suffering from high prices of goods due to the effects of Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.
“Ngayon po, iyong taumbayan na ang nagsasabi na certified urgent na ito kasi ayaw na nating makita na tumaas pa iyong presyo ng mga bilihin pagdating ng 2019,” Senator Bam said in his message.
In an interview after the dialogue, VP Leni reiterated her call for the NFA leadership and concerned government agencies to shape up and come up with unified solutions to solve the crisis.
“Alam natin na malaking bagay iyong leadership sa NFA, kaya noong Lunes nanawagan kami ni Senator Bam na ayusin na iyon. Magkaroon ng isang boses iyong mga ahensya ng pamahalaan. Huwag nang magbigay ng mas maraming kalituhan sa ating mga kababayan. Sana may isang haharap na sasabihin na ginagawa na iyong dapat gawin, at hindi na tatagal iyong ganito.
“[K]aya iyon iyong panawagan natin: na sana humarap natin, isang mag-a-assume ng responsibilidad na under control na lahat, patapos na iyong problema, at assurance na iyong paghihirap malalampasan na din,” she said.