Duterte says truth on rice – Roque

Malacañang doubled down on President Duterte’s statement that the Philippines would never be self-sufficient in rice but the President’s spokesperson admitted he did not know what basis the President had in saying it.

Harry Roque, presidential spokesperson, said President Duterte was just speaking the truth when he said the country was not self-sufficient in rice and will never be.


Roque said he guessed the President’s basis for saying so was “the historical fact that all administrations have attempted to be self-sufficient in rice” but failed.

Told that Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol had projected the country to be self-sufficient in rice this year, Roque said “obviously it’s not happening this year.”


Imported rice seized

Roque made the statements as the Bureau of Customs (BOC) continued its antismuggling campaign, seizing 100,000 sacks of Thai white rice among other contraband.

The National Food Authority (NFA) had been allowed to import up to 200,000 metric tons of rice to restore the supply of NFA rice in the market that would stabilize prices.

The government was set to import rice this month from Vietnam.

The Thai rice seized by the BOC on Thursday was illegally shipped.

Biggest haul

The cargo, kept in 200 shipping containers, was the biggest haul of smuggled rice since Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña assumed his post as BOC chief.


The shipment, said Lapeña, was not authorized by the NFA.

The importer of the shipment, Sta. Rosa Farm Products Corp., would be charged with agricultural smuggling among others.

Hurting producers

Presenting the contraband to reporters, Lapeña said agricultural smuggling “does not only put local producers at a disadvantage but also puts at risk the health of Filipino consumers.”

He said the seized rice could be disposed of either by auction, destruction or donation.

The bureau, he said, could consider requests to keep the rice as “buffer stock.”

The BOC, he said, also destroyed P22 million worth of other smuggled goods that included fake cigarettes, motorcycle parts and accessories, office supplies and clothes, and shoes consigned to Zafari Trading.

The fake cigarettes bore the brands Mighty and Philip Morris. Other goods consigned to Trikris Enterprises had been seized.

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TAGS: Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, National Food Authority, Philippine news updates, President Rodrigo Duterte, rice sufficiency
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