Duterte okays importation of 250,000 MT rice
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the importation of 250,000 metric tons of rice following reports of shortage of government-subsidized rice.
In a television interview on Thursday, National Food Authority Council chairman Leoncio Evasco Jr. said that he has to follow Duterte's order.
This was despite his earlier statement the NFA Council would try to find out first if there was truth to reports there was shortage of NFA rice or it was just "a drama" of some interest groups.
He said on Wednesday night, Duterte ordered him to push through with the importation of 250,000 MT of rice.
"I got an oral...I was called. The president giving us order to buy. So we don't have any option than to follow the president," Evasco said in an interview by ABS-CBN.
Evasco said the 250,000 MT of rice was on top of the 325,000 MT of rice under the minimum access volume (MAV) set to arrive in the country this month.
He explained when the NFA requested last month to push with the importation of 250,000 MT of rice, the Council refused to act on it because there was no recommendation from the food security committee that there was an urgency.
Evasco said the government has to be cautious with rice importation in order not to compete with local farmers, particularly on harvest season.
He also welcomed the plan by Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the committee on agriculture and food, to conduct an inquiry on the reported shortage of NFA rice. Celerina Monte/DMS