Duterte to NFA chief: Ignore council, go ahead with rice importation
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Jason Aquino to “ignore” the agency’s policy-making body and push through with the rice importation.
The 18-member NFA Council is the policy-making body of the grain agency headed by Secretary to the Cabinet Leoncio “Jun” Evasco Jr.
“Sinabi ko na sa kanya, ‘ignore the Rice Council which is mandated by law, go ahead and make the importations,’” he said in a speech during a dinner concert in Pasay City on Thursday attended by lawmakers and Cabinet officials.
President Duterte said he ordered the importation of rice to allay fears of the public on a possible rice shortage, which he described as “a very unsettling environment.”
The President on Thursday met with primary rice traders in Malacañang where he reportedly said he wanted to abolish the NFA Council.
James Magbanua, national president of the Grains Retailers Confederation of the Philippines (GRECON) who was present at the meeting, said President Duterte made the order away with the rigors of bureaucracy.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol also said during interviews on Thursday that the NFA Council would be abolished.
But Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the NFA Council would not be abolished.
“It’s NFA that will be transferred to OP with the Council,” Roque said in a text message
Malacañang has yet to issue a clarification on these conflicting statement.
The clash between Evasco and Aquino apparently started after the two officials had differed from their choice of rice importation method.
Evasco had earlier accused NFA of creating an “artificial” rice shortage in the country.
Evasco said the 250,000 metric tons of imported rice would arrive before June but the NFA is trying to create a shortage to pin down on the council. /jpv
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