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Retiring Army chief to head NFA – Duterte

 

By GENALYN D. KABILING

 

President Duterte yesterday announced plans to designate Army chief Lt. Gen. Rolando Bautista as the next National Food Authority administrator when he retires next month.

The President said he wanted Bautista to rationalize the “idiotic” structure in the NFA and ensure a stable supply of rice in the country.

Bautista, a former Presidential Security Group commander, is scheduled to retire from the military next month.

A graduate of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1985, Bautista will take the place of NFA Administrator Jason Aquino who recently offered to be relieved from his post. Aquino has drawn criticisms for the recent shortage of NFA rice that triggered price hikes in the market.

“NFA ka na. Mabait yan si Rolly,” the President told Bautista during the government’s disaster response meeting in typhoon-hit Cagayan.

“In the meantime hindi kita malagay sa Central Bank, pwede ka muna sa NFA siguro to rationlize the idiotic itong, para maplano make it structural,” he said.

Even as the country has adequate supply of rice, Duterte directed Bautista to make sure the government rice stocks are distributed from the warehouses to the market.

He said the incoming NFA chief should have a map to monitor the agency’s rice supply and ensure its efficient distribution especially during calamities. He added that he was mulling the purchase of trucks for the NFA that would efficiently deliver the rice stocks to the retail stores.

“There is a dearth of substantial knowledge of where the rice is during calamity. I need somebody I can trust at masabihan ko na fix that. So wala na ako ibang malagay so si Bautista muna,” he said.

“In the meantime you have to help the country and rationalize everything there. Keep a level of inventory,” he told Bautista.

Duterte also directed Bautista “to enforce the law” amid plans of the government to lift the import quota system and impose tariffs on rice.

He said he was supportive of the rice tariffication proposal to help stabilize rice prices and prevent shortage of the commodity. He said liberalizing the rice imports would also help stop corruption.

“I am decided on tariffication. Walang limit well of course you have to auction,” he said.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Bautista’s appointment would take effect after his retirement from the military.

“PRRD expressed his desire to appoint Lt. Gen. Rolando Bautista as NFA Admin effective on his retirement as Chief of Army on 15 Oct.,” Roque said in a message to reporters.

Prior to his appointment as commanding general of the Army, Bautista served as commander of the task force that defeated the Islamic State-linked terrorists that attacked Marawi City last year.

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