Duterte orders ‘unimpeded’ importation of rice to curb food inflation

Marje Pelayo   •   October 9, 2018   •   3321

FILE PHOTO: Workers unloading imported NFA rice

 

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a free market of rice in the country effective Tuesday (October 9).

This was announced in a press briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque who was still technically on leave but was compelled to return to work for the said important announcement.

According to Roque, the President decided to liberalize the importation of rice to curb food inflation. The matter was decided during the Cabinet meeting on Monday (October 8).

Describing how the Cabinet meeting dealt with the issue, Roque said they had an “animated” discussion with many of them raising their strong views on the need to import rice as “the ultimate means by which to rein in inflation as far as food items are concerned.”

“The President said we would go by the recommendation that we should have now unimpeded importation of rice. It was highlighted that minimum access volume is a minimum, there is no maximum,” he said.

Secretary Roque noted that since the Philippines has no local source of oil, the government cannot do anything to stop the continuous spike in oil prices.

What it can do now, according to Roque, is to increase the supply of rice to lower its price.

“Habang wala pa tayong sariling langis dito sa Pilipinas, wala tayong magagawa sa pagtaas ng presyo ng langis. Pero ngayong pinapayagan na nating mag-angkat ng bigas ang kahit na sino, kahit anong quantity ng bigas. At least, inaasahan nating mapapababa ang presyo ng bigas na siyang pinakamalapit sa sikmura ng mamamayang Pilipino,” he said further.

The current status quo actually impedes the importation of rice with the National Food Authority (NFA) as the regulating body when it comes to the maximum volume to be imported.

With the President’s directive, Roque said: “Anyone who can afford it and will pay tariffs for rice will be allowed to import rice.”

Secretary Roque clarified that the directive does not affect the proposed rice tariffication measure being pushed in Congress.

He explained, however, that there was a consensus among Cabinet members to recommend the full liberalization of rice importation to the President as the only solution to address inflation.

The Secretary, meanwhile, emphasized that although importers no longer need approval from NFA Council, they still have to secure import permits and the necessary documents before importation as the NFA is already stripped off its power to accredit any importer.

When asked about the impact of the President’s order to the local farmers, Roque said: “Wala naman po dahil mataas nga ang presyo (ng bigas). Pero ang pangako po natin, iyong ibabayad na taripa ay itatabi natin iyan para sa kapakanan ng ating mga lokal na magsasaka,” he concluded. —Marje Pelayo

 

Duterte to listen to public’s sentiment on VFA issue

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is open to listening to the public about their sentiments on the issue regarding the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States (US).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said those who wish to voice out their opinions on whether the VFA should be abolished or not can send messages through the government hotline 8888.

Kung nais ninyong marinig ang inyong boses tungkol dito, huwag po kayong mag-atubili, kayo po ay magpadala ng e-mail o mensahe o kung anuman doon sa mga linya ng ating mga ahensiya sa gobyerno para makarating po kay Presidente (If you want your voices to be heard, do not hesitate and send an email or message through government agency hotlines for it to reach the President), he said.

Duterte, during his public address on Wednesday (February 24), said he is still undecided on what to do. He previously demanded the US to pay if it wants the VFA to continue.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt.Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said the military will support the decision of the President but also said the Philippines should be able to defend itself without any assistance. -AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to visit areas affected by ‘Auring’—Palace

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte is set to visit areas affected by the onslaught of tropical depression Auring, Malacañang announced on Tuesday (February 23).

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles in an online briefing said the President wants to see firsthand the damage wrought by Auring and the situation of displaced residents. Duterte will visit the affected areas in the Caraga region accompanied by several members of the Cabinet.

Nograles reported that financial aid has already been given to the residents. He further assured that additional relief assistance will also be provided.

As of February 22, the number of families affected by Auring has reached 28,009. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Malacañang closely monitoring TD Auring, readies line agencies ahead of landfall

Marje Pelayo   •   February 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has assured that Malacañang is closely monitoring developments in relation to tropical depression Auring especially in areas affected by the weather disturbance.

Roque said the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and line government agencies have been providing relief assistance to affected communities.

A total of P1.2 billion in relief stockpiles and standby funds have been readied by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in all its Central Office, Field Offices and National Resource Operations Center.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) has prepositioned more than P19 million worth of medicines, medical supplies, health kits in its Centers for Health Development.

Roque added that the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has already sent its deployable response groups (DRGs) to affected areas to assist in evacuation and /or rescue operations in coordination with the concerned local government units (LGU). 

“We ask the public, especially residents of affected areas, to remain vigilant, be prepared and ready for possible evacuation in case their local authorities advise them to do so as a precautionary measure,” the Palace official said while he urged the public to regularly check the latest weather advisories and other information related to the weather system throughout its prevalence.

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