Duterte believes more NFA administrator than Council
President Rodrigo Duterte has admitted that he trusts more National Food Authority Administrator Jason Aquino on the rice importation issue.
In a speech during a dinner concert Thursday in Pasay City, Duterte said that it was him who told Aquino to ignore the NFA Council.
"(I) talked with Jason Aquino, actually there was already indication of a shortage. I placed Aquino there because I trust him and he whispered to me, 'Sir, there's..." it's not really an actual shortage. But when you start to see something which is also true, it cannot be rumor mongering because what is at stake is the stomach of the people," he said.
"I told him, 'ignore the Rice Council which is mandated by law, go ahead and make the importations'," he said.
The President said what he did not want is for the people to be worried because of rice shortage.
Aquino and Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. had opposing stance on the need to import rice.
Evasco, who chairs the NFA Council, doubted earlier that the NFA buffer stock had been depleted and there was no need yet to import 250,000 metric tons of rice contrary to Aquino's position.
But later, upon Duterte's order, Evasco allowed the rice importation.
The President also has expressed intention to task Agriculture Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat to oversee the importation of rice and place the NFA Council directly under his office. Celerina Monte/DMS