Duterte orders DILG, cops to raid rice warehouses
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to raid warehouses where sacks of rice were allegedly being hoarded, his spokesman said on Monday.
This as Duterte said in a speech in a gathering of the Filipinos in Israel that there was no rice shortage in the Philippines.
"They're saying that there's rice shortage. There are lots of rice," he said as he added jokingly that the rice from the Philippines could even reach the Filipinos in Israel.
He said the alleged rice shortage and other issues were just part of "politics."
In a radio interview, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said even before Duterte left on Sunday afternoon for Israel, he ordered the PNP to open the rice warehouses.
While they were still in the plane, he said that Duterte also made the same order to DILG Officer-in-charge Secretary Eduardo Ano.
"He mentioned earlier to DILG to start opening the warehouses. The President knew who the hoarders are," he said.
Roque said during the flight, he told the President that there were PR firms from the opposition, which are using the rice problem in Mindanao to be an issue against the administration.
"So for me, it's just natural that if you are from the opposition, you will create an issue," he said.
Thus, Roque said he told Duterte that the best way to counter those negative publicity is to have more rice in the country in order to lower its prices. He said 125,000 metric tons of rice would be arriving in the country.
Roque said if the unscrupulous businessmen would continue to hoard rice, they would suffer loses as more tons of rice are coming in.
They could also face possible charges for hoarding, he added.
Zamboanga City and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi have experienced significant increase in the prices of rice since the past weeks due to absence of government-subsidized rice in the market.
The state-run National Food Authority recently unloaded rice in Zamboanga and the three provinces to stabilize the prices of rice in those areas. Celerina Monte/DMS