No infighting in Cabinet, says Duterte
DAVAO CITY – President Duterte on Monday said there is no infighting among his Cabinet members despite the recent sacking of several officials.
The President said the officials were removed for alleged involvement in corruption, making a particular example on the recent sacking of
former Cabinet Undersecretary Maia Chiara Valdez.
“There is no infighting, no trouble there. I just don’t like people who are corrupt,” the President said shortly before flying to the Middle East.
Mr. Duterte said Valdez had approved the order to extend the importation of rice even without an authority to do so.
“Besides, harvest time ngayon (now). The harvest is good. Per hectare it’s three times the original output. Bakit ka mag-iimport ng bigas (Why would you import rice)?” Mr. Duterte said.
The President said official procedure was not followed when Valdez signed and approved the recommendation to import rice when it should
have been his office, which has the final say since the National Food Authority (NFA) is now under the Office of the President.
Mr. Duterte said he could not allow for the government to import rice since it is harvest time and it would be not helpful to local farmers.
“Why would you import? You would compete with the local farmers,” the President said, adding he has directed NFA administrator Jason Aquino
to buy the staple from local farmers for a possible “buffer” and only allow importation in case of a supply shortfall.
“Unahin mo muna yung atin. Pabawiin mo yung mga farmers (Prioritize our crops. Give farmers a chance to recover),” the President said. “Is that not crazy? Patayin mo yung mga farmers dito (Kill the livelihood of our farmers)? You approve an importation?” he said.
Valdez’s removal came in the heels of the sacking of two other members of the Cabinet, former National Irrigation Administration (NIA) chief Peter Lavina and former Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno.
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