Roque slams NFA exec for ‘misleading’ statements on PH rice supply
Malacañang on Tuesday rebuked National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Jason Aquino for his “misleading” statements that the food security agency now only has about two days’ worth of buffer rice.
Roque stressed that the country is not experiencing a rice shortage.
During the Cabinet meeting on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said officials have acknowledged that Aquino’s statements have caused panic and may have even prompted the increase in rice prices.
“There was an acknowledgement that statements made by the NFA administrator caused panic, which probably caused prices to rise,” he said in a press briefing.
In a Senate hearing last week, Aquino told the committee on agriculture that the NFA only has 1.7 days’ worth of buffer stock.
“Don’t make such announcement to cause the people to panic. You don’t even have a strategy. I mean if you cannot do your job, just keep quiet,” Senator Cynthia Villar told Aquino.
Roque clarified that the amount stockpile only applies if the agency is the sole supplier of rice in the country.
“The NFA Council briefed the Cabinet that there’s absolutely no shortage of rice, that the reported shortfall or the reported stockpile available for the country which allegedly was only for 1.5 days is absolutely untrue,” Roque said.
“The 1.5 day stockpile is if we did not have any other source of rice other than NFA. Meaning, if we only had NFA in our possession, we would only have 1.5 days worth of supply,” he added.
Roque said the rice issue had been discussed “extensively” at the Cabinet meeting on Monday, noting that the officials agreed that Aquino’s statement caused panic and “probably caused prices to rise.”
He said Duterte had ordered Aquino to attend the cluster Cabinet meeting next month.
According to the NFA, only 8 to 9 percent of the public buys NFA rice so the limited stockpile should only have minimal impact to rice supply and prices. /muf
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