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President searching for new NFA chief




rice NFA

PRESIDENT Duterte is searching a replacement of National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Jason Aquino after he offered to vacate his post.

Amid the rice supply problems hounding the state-owned food agency, the President revealed that Aquino has asked to be “relieved” from his post because he was already “tired.”

“Jason Aquino has requested that he be relieved already. He says he’s tired. He cannot cope up with the laro dyan sa inside, which is always ordinary happening in government because we cannot be in agreement all the time,” Duterte said on government television.

“I will scout for a new one,” he added.

Some lawmakers have called for the removal of Aquino for alleged incompetence in dealing with reported rice shortage in some parts of the country.

Aquino has been accused of failure to fulfill the NFA mandate to stabilize rice supply and market cost following reports of shortage of cheap government rice that caused price hikes of the commodity.

The President, meantime, assured the public that the country has adequate rice supply, adding more stocks are “coming.” He recognized the need to import additional rice, saying he wants to keep a 60-day buffer stock in the country.

Duterte said he was also considering allowing the country’s rice trading with Sabah to pave the way for entry of cheaper rice.

“I will simply open up Sabah. Free for all. Busog lahat, mura,” he said. “We just have to control rice there baka sinasabi na ginugutom sila,” he added.

Duterte has also pushed for the passage of a bill that imposes tariffs on rice in place of import quotas.

Also, Duterte said he was prepared to enforce the full force of the law against groups hoarding rice supply and manipulating prices in the market.

He said he would not allow an “artificial” or man-made shortage of rice in the country. He said he detests the “bad practice of manipulation to make money at the expense of our countrymen.”

Malacañang earlier announced that Duterte has given the green light to rice traders to import small volume of rice from Malaysia to boost supply in some parts of Mindanao.

The rice traders however will be required to pay the corresponding import tariffs for the rice stocks intended for Zambasulta (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi) area, according to Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.