Employees in red oppose calls to abolish NFA during flag ceremony | Inquirer News

Employees in red oppose calls to abolish NFA during flag ceremony

National Food Authority officials and employees wore red shirts to protest against attempts to abolish the agency during their flag raising ceremony at the agency office in Quezon City, September 3, 2018. Employees who have worked with the agency since the 1970’s, are particularly hurt by accusations of inefficiency, corruption and incompetence. Some sectors have collectively blamed the agency for the high inflation rayes and rising rice prices.

More than 4,000 employees of the National Food Authority (NFA) wore red shirts or sported anything red on Monday to protest against calls to abolish the agency.

NFA Administrator Jason Aquino said the agency should not be scrapped given its mandate of providing cheap rice to the poor in a brief speech during the flag-raising ceremony. He did not wear red, though.


Aquino said the NFA still had the support of President Duterte and congratulated the employees “for quietly but conscientiously doing your respective share in the delivery of services to our countrymen.”


“Ensuring food security for the people is the most significant public service—‘servicio publico’—of any government. Take that away and the government is inutile in providing public service,” he said.

The employees later released a statement attributing the soaring rice prices and low supply of NFA rice to the “short-sighted decisions and wrong assumptions by people who work in the boardrooms.”

NFA Council

The statement was a shot at the NFA Council, the policy-making body that has the power to approve and reject proposals from the NFA management.

“It is unfair for NFA management that has consistently been proposing measures to avert this current problem but whose proposals are consistently thumbed down by those who have the power to approve or disapprove these proposals,” it said.

If the management had autonomy from the council or if its governing body were “as receptive and supportive as their previous council members, this present problem . . . may have been prevented,” it added.


No rice shortage

There is no rice shortage, according to President Duterte, who blamed politics for that impression on Monday night.

Speaking to the Filipino community in Jerusalem, the President, who is on a state visit to Israel, said rice was bountiful in the Philippines.

“They are now saying there is a rice shortage. But there is a lot of rice… We even have an excess,” Mr. Duterte said. “You know [this is] politics.”

On Monday, Senators Francis Pangilinan and Bam Aquino, and other lawmakers renewed calls for Aquino to resign amid increasing rice prices and depleted stocks of NFA rice.

They said the NFA chief tolerated incompetence and corruption in the agency.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier called for the hanging of NFA officials for causing the surge in rice prices and inflation.

In a statement last week, Aquino said he would not resign “just because some personalities are asking for it.”

“My position is dependent on the trust and confidence of the President,” he said.

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Vice President Leni Robredo said the government should fix the NFA and resolve the issue of rice supply shortage immediately. —WITH A REPORT FROM MELVIN GASCON

TAGS: abolish, demand, Jason Aquino, Local news, Nation, national news, News, NFA, protest, rice, rice shortage, Supply

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