Sen. Villar denies filing bill vs unli-rice promos


AFTER instantly receiving criticism over her remarks on rice, Sen. Cynthia Villar explained that she was misconstrued and denied that she’s initiating a measure to ban restaurants and fast food establishments from offering unlimited rice.

During a committee hearing, Villar, who is also the chair of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, proposed an initiative to curb the habit of eating too much rice among Filipinos who are known to be heavy consumers of rice. She further encouraged the consumption of more vegetables over white rice, which is said to cause diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

“I think we should learn how to eat vegetables because it’s healthier. Kasi sasabihin mas mura ang rice sa vegetables eh ang mahal naman magpagamot ng diabetes (I think we should learn how to eat vegetables because it’s healthier. People would say vegetable are way more expensive than rice, but look at how much it would cost you to pay your medical bills due to diabetes),” said Villar during a hearing on rice production and consumption.

Villar clarified that she was merely “voicing out” her concern on the health risks of excessive consumption of rice when she made a statement during a Senate hearing on rice importation and rice self-sufficiency on Wednesday, June 14.

“I just voiced out my concern that eating too much rice is one of the main causes of high blood sugar that leads to diabetes,” said Villar.

Meanwhile, the senator has tasked the Department of Agriculture (DA) to stop rice importation starting 2018, a directive which that coincides with an earlier statement by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol before the committee who said that he aims to end the country’s need to import rice by next year.

According to the  Philippine Rice Research Institute (Philrice),  self-sufficiency in food staples means the country must produce the national food requirement while also maintaining a buffer stock to be used in times of need.

Villar touted that attaining rice self-sufficiency for the country is a no easy job, but she is quite bullish that the DA can solve the rice problem given that it has implemented effective measures in addressing various issues on rice  production.

“Iyon ang projection (2018) ni Secretary Piñol, kung makukuha niya. Kasi ang importation depends on production. (That was the projection of Secretary Piñol for 2018. Rice importation depends on the production).  If the production can meet the consumption, then no importation. Marami nang nag-project nang ganoon, hindi naman natupad,” she explained to reporters.

Present during the hearing were representatives from the Department of Agriculture, National Food Authority (NFA), and Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Jun” Evasco, chair of the NFA Council.

Further, Villar also told the officials to encourage the consumption of brown rice, instead of well-milled rice.

“We should not encourage well-milled rice. Kung pwedeng brown rice, brown rice na lang. Kasi pag kinain mo, mabigat sa tiyan, konti lang nakakain mo (If possible, consume brown rice because of its fiber content, making you feel full even with a small amount, thus, you eat less),” she added.

However, Villar’s proposal to end unli-rice was met with a barrage of negative from netizens— from serious suggestions on other viable options to manage the production of rice, to with comical undertones, and those that accuse Villar of being “cruel” for denying them a simple joy. (With reports from Jennifer Soriano/AJPress)

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