UNITEAM senatorial candidate Herbert “Bistek” Bautista on Wednesday said he found it unusual for those in charge of buffer food stock to keep a supply good for only 15 days instead of the normal 90 days.
In an interview with Power Radio 94.7 Davao, Bautista said he learned that the current buffer stock of rice being maintained by the National Food Authority (NFA) was just good for 15 days.
“It puzzles me why our buffer is just 15 days when it comes to food,” said Bautista, who is running for senator on a platform of “Internet reform, Livelihood for all and Youth development, or ILY,” and “Pagkain para sa Pamilyang Pilipino”.
“This is so we can be prepared and ready, not in [a] panic over where to get food when 15 days run out,” said Bautista, who served as mayor for Quezon City for nine years.
Earlier, Bautista asked the government to be proactive in preventing a shortage in the supply of basic goods, especially food, after the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) was quoted in reports, as saying the supply of basic items was likely to fall short of demand.
“We should not wait for the shortage to be staring us in the face before we act,” said Bautista.
Bautista made the statement after reports said the “think tank” Japan Center for Economic Research (JCER) cut its 2022 growth forecast for the Philippines to just 6.9% amid threats of rising global commodity prices.
According to JCER, rapid increases in energy prices were likely to impact consumer behavior in the Philippines the country was not self-sufficient in power.
But Bautista took issue with the NEDA recommendation to ramp up importation as a solution to projected food shortages.
In a March 18 report, NEDA projected a rise in inflation because of supply issues in food and other commodities and the effect of increasing oil prices on transportation.
NEDA said there’s ample supply of chicken, upland vegetables, and rice but local production, especially of vegetables, was likely to yield only 1.3 million metric tons or 20% short of demand.
There would be 120,900 metric tons of deficits in pork supply.
“Why is importation our knee-jerk reaction?” said Bautista, who is running under the Bongbong-Sara ticket and has recently barged into the winning circle in the senatorial race based on the latest Pulse Asia survey.
“There should be first an honest-to-goodness inventory of production on the ground,” he said. “We can’t know the real situation by just sitting behind our gilded desks,” added Bautista.