The situation is getting more and more alarming. For a month now, we haven’t received our ration of rice which the NARIC had been distributing in small quantities. It is either because there is no rice or because of certain reasons enumerated by Pres. Laurel in a recent speech, namely:
- The anomalies of the NARIC. The President himself expressed his intention of dissolving the NARIC. It is common knowledge that thousands of sacks of rice have been disappearing from the bodegas through clandestine operations of Filipino and Japanese officials who are presently detained by the Military Police at Fort Santiago.
- The subversive and recalcitrant elements who are called by the generic term “guerrillas.” Some of them refuse to plant, while others prevent the harvest of rice. Others attack transport trucks loaded with rice, claiming that they are destined for Japanese provisions. In Nueva Ecija, where rice abounds, the guerrillas are encamped, to their greater advantage.
- The lack of transportation. Vehicles are either rotting or breaking down. A small spare part costs more than the price of a new car before the war. The Army has commandeered all the supply of alcohol which is already running out due to reduced plantation activities, and is not selling the scarce supply to private individuals. The experiment of using charcoal which had caused so much furor in the beginning is now unpopular because of its damaging effects on the engine. There are no boats or barges available since all of them have been commandeered by the Navy. The railroad is unable to cope with the transportation needed. Thousands of daily commuters wait to buy tickets at the Tutuban station, and after waiting for three days and nights, they end up not being able to buy them unless they are willing to pay five or ten times the price from scalpers. Passengers are inside and outside the trains, on the roof-top, hanging by the windows or piled up on the engines, almost covering the whole train.
- The buy-and-sell of controlled commodities—rice, sugar, soap, oil, clothes, cigarettes, matches—is prohibited. The government is supposed to take over it. But since this is very seldom done and if ever, only in small quantities, people have to buy the commodities from the The SIBA, which has replaced the NARIC, has started distributing daily rations of 120 grams of rice per person, which is what a beggar would eat for breakfast. And this comes after a month of fasting, since it is not given on a daily basis. The PRMICO, a sister organization, is not doing any better in distributing other prime commodities. In three months’ time, it has distributed only once.
The New Order publicly condemns the blackmarket, but if people cannot procure these commodities elsewhere, would they rather die of hunger?
- There are general complaints on the venalities committed by the Constabulary and other agencies of the government. They are being accused of extorting goods or money from businessmen, or of impeding the transport of goods into the city. The President issued a decree imposing the death penalty or the life sentence on extorting government agents. Public morale is dwindling below zero. Robbery is the order of the day, and business malpractice has become acceptable.
The degenerating morale cannot but contaminate even the responsible and honorable people.