Duterte did not authorize ‘unimpeded importation’ of rice — Piñol
President Rodrigo Duterte did not authorize the “unimpeded” importation of rice, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol clarified Monday, adding that the importation of the staple still needs licensing and accreditation.
Piñol made the statement after former Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte lifted the restrictions on rice importation during the Cabinet meeting in Malacañang last week.
“I do not want to discredit the statement of Secretary Roque…to be truthful and factual, I think we could refer to the minutes of the Cabinet meeting,” Piñol said in a Palace briefing.
“The President never used the words ‘unimpeded importation,’ he said ‘let’s flood the market with rice,'” he added.
The Agriculture chief noted that unimpeded rice importation would mean “throwing away all of the rules on the book” and allowing just everybody to “load rice on a boat and bring them to the Philippines.”
“Those words are never uttered by the President. But he directed us to make sure that there will be sufficient demand for rice,” he said.
“Luluwagan namin iyong importation pero meron pa ring mga prosesong susundin (We are going to relax the rules on rice importation, but processes still need to be followed),” he added.
Piñol also stressed that what the President said during the Cabinet meeting was a mere “reiteration” of Administrative Order 13, which seeks to streamline procedures on the importation of agricultural products, including rice.
Aside from this order, Memorandum Order (MO) Nos. 26, 27, and 28 were also signed last month to stabilize the prices of essential agricultural commodities at reasonable levels and maintain their sufficient supply in the domestic market. /ee
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