Duterte suspends rice importation amid farmers’ woes
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the suspension of rice importation as farmers’ complain of rock-bottom palay prices due to the Rice Tariffication Act.
“In the months of harvest, bilhin na lang ninyo. ‘Wag kayong masyadong mag-import. Do not allow import. The government will not import. I-hold muna hanggang mabili ‘yong kanila,” Duterte said in an exclusive interview aired Monday on GMA’s 24 Oras.
(In the months of harvest, buy it. Don’t import too much. Do not allow import. The government will not import. Hold importation for now until the local farmers’ rice is bought).
He said he won’t mind if the government would incur losses so long as it would help Filipino farmers.
“That’s what government is for. Magpalugi para makatulong sa farmer,” he said.
(That’s what the government is for. Allow losses to help the farmers).
“That’s the only solution… to buy,” he added.
He then called on Agriculture Secretary William Dar to help farmers amid their losses.
“I’m appealing to the farmers and to Dar, si Sec. Dar mismo pati ‘yong ibang departments to help the farmers tied up during that time of season,” he said.
(I am appealing to the farmers and to Dar, Secretary Dar and the other departments to help farmers tied up during that time of season).
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said earlier Monday that there was no order yet from Duterte to suspend rice importation in the Philippines.
“As of this time, there is no order to stop rice importation given to Sec. Dar of the Department of Agriculture,” Panelo said in a text message.
The Rice Tariffication Act, which was enacted in February, has opened the country’s doors to unimpeded importation of rice.
Edited by KGA
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