The U.S. vowed to supply the Philippines, the biggest buyer of rice, with as much as it needs after some of the world's largest exporters cut sales to safeguard domestic supplies.
``You are assured absolutely,'' Kristie Kenney, ambassador to the southeast Asian country, told reporters in Bataan province, west of Manila today. Philippine President Gloria Arroyo announced yesterday plans to purchase 1 million tons of the grain and said she would jail anyone found guilty of ``stealing rice from the people.''>>>MORE
And from the Philippine Inquirer:
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Justice is preparing economic sabotage or plunder charges that carry a life sentence against traders found to be hoarding rice, the price of which has risen sharply amid a tight global supply.
Although the country has yet to experience a shortage, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Thursday vowed to hale to court hoarders and other unscrupulous rice traders for acts “inimical to the public interest.”
Gonzalez mentioned Chinese rice traders, but was quick to point out that “Filipino millers, for example, were also trying to take advantage” of the “emergency situation.”Gonzalez confirmed the existence of Chinese rice cartels in the country, but added: “We will not engage in witch-hunt.” >>>MORE