RICE sufficiency is under threat in Baguio City and Benguet after a notice to vacate was issued to the National Food Authority’s office and warehouse in Marcoville.
The notice to vacate came from a Victory Liner representative and another from the Philippine National Railways (PNR) last week.
NFA has been renting the property from PNR which was recently bought by Victory Liner, one the country’s biggest bus companies.
NFA Benguet Provincial Manager Cecilia Concubierta said they were not informed ahead of time the lot where the warehouse sits was sold.
NFA was renting around 600 square meters of PNR property in Marcoville.
The NFA office and warehouse sits next to the bus terminal of Victory Liner.
They asked for official documents such as Deed of Sale as proof the lot was indeed sold. However, Concubierta said, the NFA central office has not been issued a copy of the lot sale.
“You must understand that moving a warehouse full of rice sacks is not easy,” Concubierta said. She adds, “even the documents, we need ample time to move those out.”
More importantly, she said the NFA-Benguet has no place to relocate.
“We need a space as wide as the present office and warehouse is, also we need a parking space for trailers and 10-wheeler trucks to maneuver,” she added.
The Marcoville warehouse has a maximum capacity of 30,000 sacks of rice weighing 50 kilograms each. This is being complimented by its Loakan warehouse with a maximum capacity of 80,000 sacks of rice.
Concubierta explained the province is considered a critical area when it comes to rice sufficiency during calamities. She said the NFA cannot house its rice stacks in a single warehouse since the province is located in a landslide prone area.
“We are even lagging on the required stock of 141,000 sacks of rice at any given time, what more if we lose this warehouse,” Concubierta lamented.
Concubierta said NFA-Benguet has been renting the PNR property for almost 37 years and never lagged in its payments.
“All we ask is for the PNR and the Victory Liner to give us enough time to locate for possible sites and allow us to fulfill our mandate on rice sufficiency,” she said.
The contract of lease between NFA central and the PNR ended December 31, 2015, Concubierta said.
However, a representative of Victory Liner in Baguio, who withheld her identity, said the bus company bought the property thru bidding and the company followed government protocols in acquiring the land.