President Rodrigo Duterte is now looking for a new National Food Authority (NFA) administrator after his appointee Jason Aquino asked to be “relieved.”
Duterte announced this during an interview with Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo yesterday.
He also said that he is planning to recommend the abolition of the National Food Council amid the increase in prices of rice in the market.
“I will recommend to Congress the abolition of the National Food Council .It has no purpose,” Duterte said.
“Jason Aquino has requested that he be relieved already.... I will scout [for] a new one,” said Duterte.
Aquino supposedly told the President he has grown “tired” amid accusations that he is to blame for the rising prices of rice, a food staple for Filipinos.
“He says he is tired and he cannot cope with the laro diyan sa (play there) inside which is always an ordinary happening,” said Duterte.
It will be recalled that even lawmakers allied with the administration have accused Aquino of causing the increase of rice prices by declaring a shortage of NFA rice and not purchasing enough palay from local farmers to stave off the need to import.
Aquino and Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., who back then supervised the NFA under Duterte’s orders, were in conflict over modes of rice importation. The infighting led to Evasco being stripped of his powers over the NFA.
He then said that the “only way” to solve the inflation of rice prices is to import more rice.
“The only way is to import more, mag-buffer ako,” said Duterte.
Duterte said he suspects the increase in rice prices is being fueled by an “artificial” rice shortage and “man-made manipulation” by certain players.
He said his approval of rice importations and the arrival of these imports should have stabilized rice prices but traders could be hoarding them in their warehouses, limiting supply and causing higher prices in the market.
He also assured the public that his economic managers are “working on it” ,pointing out that he himself would be asking them his own questions about inflation during the Cabinet meeting to be held later after the interview.