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Rice probed, but Mayor and Councilors not around…


(BY. REV. BERLIE G. YAP) The rampant rice smuggling in the City has now reached to the attention of the national leadership. In the capacity of the President of the Republic, a probe is now undertaking to determine the depths of the rice smuggling in the City, which recently are starting to affect local rice farmers for their rice’s price competitiveness and their very sale in the market.

It actually began with the nagging of the Barangay eMedia on the obvious connivance in the local market of the rice smuggling. Allegedly, public officers are involved for the easy penetration of the said smuggled rice in our ports and wharfs without hassles of inspections or apprehensions. Until they are received and disposed by our stall traders in the different city markets both downtown and in the barangays.

Because of these apparent facts, Barangay eMedia was noisy, and was able to challenge our City Council and the very office of our Mayor to act on the alarming rate of same rice smuggling. Thus, a council resolution was passed to ask PNoy to intervene in the situation, and a personal letter was crafted and signed by Mayor Beng to support such request to our National Executive.

Yesterday, high ranking officials came to the City, as sent by PNoy in respond to the plea of our City officials. Around were the Custom Commissioner, the NFA Administrator, and few others. Their presence showed seriousness from the executive branch in its response to the said allegation of rampant rice smuggling in Zamboanga.

However, a pretty irony happened because our City Mayor herself and most of the City Councilors were not around! Who was meeting the executives was only the City Vice-Mayor Cesar Iturralde, as Zamboanga’s acting Mayor in the absence of Mayor Beng who was in Iloilo for the yearly STRATPLAN seminar workshop.

How about the City Councilors, especially the sponsor of the rice smuggling probe resolution, why they too were not around? To the surprise of many, they instead preferred to attend the annual consolidation of the league of councilors in Manila, which, by actual scenario, is only a usual get-together, elections and shopping chance.

A question is presumed “posed” by any common Zamboangueño that why they yet leaved despite of the good response to their requests to Malacañang? A number of the regular citizens in the City were upset to their poor reception.

A benefit of the doubt can be given, though, to them because accordingly, a miscommunication took place. Their itinerary to Manila was already earlier booked which they could not easily drop. Otherwise, they again can be accused as misspending the people’s money by defaulting their annual convention.

And so was Mayor Beng, too. The STRATPLAN workshop seminar in Iloilo is also equally important and by scrapping it would as well impair the City’s good for next year. Do you think both are already a good justified alibi? God knows!

A gossip however was exchanged yesterday that our local officials might not be very serious in their call for the investigation but instead their supposed infuriation of the rice smuggling was only political as only patronizing the sentiments of the public. Again, God only knows and we can’t judge.

The National Food Authority Regional Office also recently called a foul in the massive influx of Malaysian rice smuggled by shadow industrialists from the South. It’s a big money, which any trickster capitalists can easily be allured for easy gain.

This happened in the guise of the City’s vulnerability of its previous rice shortage. Thus, it somehow met the vacuum in a wrong way. The law of supply and demand indeed operated, but unhealthily, because who suffered are our local farmers or the State itself in its deprivation of the supposed millions of taxes that could be meted in those hundreds of thousands of sack of rice.

But the real question then, can the problem still be helped? Is there yet a way or a political will to stop this rice smuggling? For anyone’s knowledge, though, this thing has been there since tens of years ago! In fact, even before some of our present politicians were born like our Mayor who is yet a 48-year in age.

To the opinion of Barangay eMedia to withstand such challenge is to slain an impregnable goliaths—not just one goliath but many goliaths! It takes much political and unpopular will to annihilate such local custom of business in Zamboanga and the South.

Yet, everyone is hopeful for a real change. Corruption is one of them. Scraping it totally can be impossible to happen overnight or just in one administration or a generation—it ain’t enough. It definite takes one at a time steady dedication of our leaders and the camaraderie of the public.

If this can be dealt then, it won’t just be Zamboanga City to progress more, but it shall contribute to the dreamed “greater prosperity” of our beloved Republic.

A one justice did say that if the alleged P10B corrupted money by Napoles was only spent well by the State, the Philippines could have bought 40 warships already, which they could probably be used to defend the West Philippine Sea.

It won’t be a wonder why men such as the present Senator Trillanes hate so much corruption, because it really ate the very values to the core of our bureaucracy. And there could be more like him, who in the past tried rebellion as the answer. But the young soldier-now-turned-politician chose politics as a means to introduce real reforms and change in our country.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Phil. 4:8-9 ESV

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