The chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Trade and Industry is set to file this week a resolution to investigate the claims of several rice dealers that fake and poisonous rice is proliferating in Mindanao.
Nacionalista Party Rep. Mark A. Villar of Las Piñas City, chairman of the panel, made the statement after rice dealers in the region voiced their concerns to him.
“I will file a resolution [this week] and we are eyeing to start the investigation in the last week of July or in August. As we go around in some markets in [Mindanao] the authorized rice dealers there said that the cases of fake rice are increasing and this is very dangerous,” Villar said in a radio interview.
He added that the panel will invite officials from the Bureau of Customs, the National Food Authority (NFA), the Department of Agriculture, as well as rice dealers in Mindanao to the panel’s hearing.
Villar said the government should strengthen its monitoring system against the fake rice, which is reportedly made out of potato, sweet potato and plastic resin, and asked the NFA to regularly inspect the local markets to prevent the entry and distribution of fake rice in the region.
“The government should also conduct an awareness campaign for the benefit of the public,” he added.
Villar said that although the fake rice is not yet reported in other areas, the public should immediately report to the authorities if they find any rice retailer selling the commodity.
“As of now, [the cases of fake rice are only] limited in Mindanao. That’s why as early as now, we should solve this problem and find the dealer of the fake rice before it reaches other areas in the Philippines,” he said.
Villar said that he believes that
fake rice may have come from the imported or the smuggled rice supplies.
According to the NFA the alleged synthetic rice samples found in Davao contained dibutyl phtalate, a chemical used as plasticizer.
Meanwhile, the NFA, in a news report, said that in buying rice, consumers should take note of the color and quality of the grains.
The agency said that rice grains usually differ in sizes, and are not shiny or too white.
“If the rice grains are uniform in size, are too white and are shiny, chances are these grains were machine-made,” the NFA said.
The NFA added that buyers are also advised to smell the grains before buying, saying rice grains should not smell like plastic.
Also one should also check whether there is a layer of plastic on top of the cooked rice, the agency said.
Malacañang on Sunday advised consumers to buy only from authorized rice dealers even as the Palace moved to allay concerns over the toxic “plasticizer” contaminated rice supply reportedly being sold in local markets.
Communications Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. confirmed over the weekend that President Aquino had already given specific instructions to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Interior Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II to track down the source of the “fake synthetic rice” and confiscate the poisonous supply to protect unwitting consumers.
He advised consumers, as a precaution, to buy their rice supply only from authorized rice dealers and rice outlets accredited by the NFA.
Coloma added that Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Secretary Francis Pangilinan was also ordered by Mr. Aquino to conduct a parallel inquiry on how the toxic rice supply was brought into the country and identify the perpetrators.
At the same time, he said President Aquino is also awaiting a full report on laboratory tests conducted on samples of the toxic rice supply earlier seized from local markets. With a report from Recto Mercene