Duterte fires Palace Usec over rice importation controversy

MANILA-- President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he has just fired an Undersecretary for allegedly attempting to reverse a National Food Authority (NFA) decision to put rice importation activities on hold while the harvest season is in full swing.

In his speech during a harvest festival in Talavera, Nueva Ecija, the President said he was 'appalled' on learning that a female Undersecretary reviewed the decision of (NFA administrator) Jaon Aquino denying the importation of rice.

Eh istorya-istorya na gustong magbigay. And it was appealed doon mismo sa MalacaAan. So part of the Office of the President 'yan. May isang undersecretary na babae, hold over 'yan, pagusapan namin sa chopper kanina, he said.

Sabi ko, 'Anong mukha ko na iharap sa mga farmers?' na why would we allow importation to compete with the local product? Hanggang ngayon, hindi ko mabasa anong ginawa nilang rason. Of course hindi natuloy kasi binara ko. Subsequently, sabi ko stop. Open market na tayo, but you know you have to protect the Filipino, Duterte said.

The President said he gave the order to dismiss the official upon landing in Nueva Ecija.

Kaya sabi ko kanina papunta ako dito, pa-landing sabi ko tawagan mo MalacaAang, sabihin mo she's fired, he said.

He added that at least five more officials will be axed within the week.

Pangalawa siya. May isa pa, may dalawa pang undersecretary. So bale at the end of the day, mamaya meron ng mga lima in a week. Eh hindi ako magdadalawang isip, maski kaibigan kita, Duterte said.

Later in the sidelines, Agriculture Secretary Manny PiAol identified the fired official as Undersecretary Maia Chiara Halmen Reina Valdez of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.

PiAol told reporters that Valdez was fired for overruling Aquino's decision to suspend rice importation as it is still harvest season in the Philippines.

Source: Philippines News Agency