MANILA President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to open the warehouses of the suspected rice hoarders, MalacaAang said on Monday.
Ayaw ko sana magsalita pero may ganun ng order na po (I'm not supposed to speak but there is such an order already), Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a radio interview.
In his pre-departure press briefing on Sunday, Duterte warned that he would order military and police raids on the rice hoarders' warehouses.
Roque, however, said Duterte has actually issued the order not only to the PNP but to Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo AAo to open the warehouses.
Mayroon na po. Binanggit po niya kanina sa DILG na talagang simula na iyong pagbubukas sa mga warehouse. Alam naman ng Presidente kung sino iyong mga hoarders na iyan (There was an order already. He mentioned it DILG to really start the opening of the warehouses. The President knew already who are those hoarders), Roque said.
He said the directive, which Duterte made while on board a Philippine Airline flight to Israel, shows government's resolve to combat rice hoardings.
Magsa-sample na tayo nang mapakita natin na talagang seryoso ang gobyerno na labanan itong hoarding ng bigas (We have to do this to show that our government is serious in fighting this rice hoarding), Roque said.
Roque, meanwhile, clarified that there was no rice shortage in the country, assuring that the supply will be sustained with the arrival of additional imported rice this year.
Uulitin ko po, wala po tayong kakulangan sa bigas. Napakadaming supply at marami pang parating (Again, there is no rice shortage. There is plenty of supply and more will arrive), he said.
In his speech before the Filipino community in Israel, Duterte also denied that the Philippines has been experiencing rice shortage.
"Ngayon sinasabi nila na ay shortage daw ng bigas, eh marami naman bigas eh. Sumobra nga eh. You know, those are politics (They say there is a rice shortage, but there is a lot of rice. We even have an excess), Duterte said.
Roque said some rice traders have been creating artificial shortage to jack up the prices of rice in the country.
He also received allegation that the opposition has been using the issues of rice and other food products against the Duterte administration.
Pero ang sabi ko, the best way na para labanan itong negative PR (public relations) ay tambakan natin ng bigas itong ating bayan nang mapababa talaga ang presyo (I said, the best way to contradict this negative PR is to supply more rice to bring down the prices), Roque said.
Roque said the decision of the National Food Authority Council to allow private rice dealers to import supply beyond the minimum access volume (MAV) would also stabilize the prices and supply of the staple.
The Philippines is allowed by the World Trade Organization to import rice with a MAV of 800,000 metric tons per year. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency