NFA employees wear black as Rice Tarrification Law is signed
It is still "business as usual" at the National Food Authority even after President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the Rice Traffication Bill into a law, NFA Officer-in-Charge Tomas Escarez said Monday morning.
Employees of NFA wore black during the flag-raising ceremony in protest of the newly signed law which lifts import limits of rice and removes the agency's administrative powers.
"The signing of R.A. 11203 or the Rice Import Liberalization Act, on Valentine's Day, broke the hearts of millions of Filipino farmers, consumers, small grains businessmen, and employees who rely on NFA for support, livelihood, affordable rice, food safety, food security and order in the grains industry," a teary-eyed Escarez said in his message to employees.
Still, Escarez assured the employees their jobs will not suffer a huge blow due to the new law.
"The NFA Management assures you, our hardworking, dedicated, highly competent professional employees, that no one will be adversely affected by this Act. [W]e have created a Change Management Team (CMT) to handle the transition period between now and whatever form our agency's structure will be once our specific role is clearly defined by the IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations)," he explained.
Escarez said while waiting for the approval of the IRR, they will still push for their position regarding the issue.
For now, NFA will still buy palay from farmers "at P20.70 per kilogram even as farmgate prices are now down at P14 to 15 per kilogram.
"The agency will also continue to distribute affordable rice in the market "to provide the poor, marginalized consumers with affordable, good quality and safe rice," Escarez said.
"Whatever role will be given to us, we must accept wholeheartedly, change gears, but still provide the best brand of service that NFA has always been known for," he added. Cristina Eloisa Baclig/DMS