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EDITORIAL: Politicizing Rice

Using rice as a tool for courting votes is a decades old practice by traditional politicians. There is no proof however that it has helped at all a politician adopting this ploy, particularly during times when vote buying became a major strategy, aside from guns, gold and goods. Rice only became a front for a hidden operation of vote buying.

Years ago, Naga City constituents witnessed the height of cornering votes through rice distribution. Trouble occasionally took place among opposing forces. It is even recalled that cart loads of rice have been jettisoned into the Naga River just to forestall its distribution. These times political rice circulates all over the different communities not only in Naga City but even more so in the different districts of Camarines Sur.

In fairness, the quality of rice distributed in Naga City the first time during the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic was better than the ones distributed in different parts of Camarines Sur. Also, the distribution approach of LGU Naga was less politicalized and non- discriminatory. There is nothing wrong in distributing rice to the people especially in these times of crisis, if only to lighten the financial burden of the people.

What renders the practice objectionable is the unnecessary presence of elective officials during the rice distribution. Obviously, their role is nothing but a cheap style of “epalitikos”, which makes them look like clowns. “Epal” is a long dreaded approach of traditional politicians.

Can they not come up with a more pro-active strategy? All the while they have projected themselves as fountains of innovative ideas. How come that now that they are in power they could not come up with ideas that would separate them from the “trapos.” By so doing they are in effect practically no different from political dead woods.

But raising a howl of protest against this loathful practice may just fall on deaf ears. What matters most is to ensure that government funds are not misused more particularly in the purchase of a large volume of rice which necessitates public bidding. However, criticisms should come without any strings attached. Otherwise, it will be a contest between one “epal” and another.

Or independent minded citizens would simply treat the criticism nothing but a political hoopla. Rice is a very important grain and should not be used for misguided agenda. Even mother nature might feel unhappy.

In a sense, it is a gift of nature’s features consisting of soil, air, water and sunlight. People only introduced human intervention to increase the yield. But without nature, human efforts would be of naught.

Man’s insatiable greed for wealth and power converted rice as a tool to further evil motives and ensure perpetuation of power, to the extent of making people believe that the staple being distributed comes from their own pockets when in truth and in fact they are drawn from government funds.

By so doing those in power commit irregularities. Much worse is when purchase of the same is tainted with corruption when suppliers and traders concerned connive with government officials by overpricing the item so that some of the money find their way into the private pockets.

Consequently, the staple not only serves the interest of corrupt officials who aside from generating dirty money converted the item as a political rice.

Using rice to generate votes is exploiting nature and amassing wealth out of the transactions between corrupt officials and opportunistic traders is doubly exploitative which may simply be perceived as politicizing rice.


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