MANILA Highlighting the importance of food security as a matter of national security, President Rodrigo Duterte has warned rice hoarders that he will not hesitate to use the full force of the law to 'break open' their warehouses.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte's warning, which is consistent with his pronouncement during his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23, was made during last Monday's Cabinet meeting.
He (Duterte) says: 'Let them sue me if they want, but if the situation calls for it, I would break open the warehouses because this is a matter of national security, Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
So he invoked national security in this regard, the spokesperson added.
Acting on intelligence report, Roque said the President has ordered a rice hoarder to release to the market the hoarded rice.
He has given them notice and that if they persist in hoarding, he will break open the warehouses. But it hasn't reached the point anyway that we have to do that, Roque said.
He said Duterte did not identify the rice hoarder but the hoarder's warehouses have been emptied following the President's first warning.
This was supposed to be off the record you did not hear from but since it's out, he (rice hoarder) was given 72 hours. The rice did come out. So there was no need even to announce who he was and apparently, he emptied his warehouses, Roque explained.
Roque said Duterte's stern warning has something to do with inflation because rice price increase was the major contributor to the increase in overall inflation.
And that's why the President has made it very clear, he will use the full power of the state to break open, if needed be, the warehouses of rice hoarders. Sue him, but he will break open the warehouses if it becomes an issue of national security, he said.
He said rice hoarding was not in the Cabinet meeting agenda but Duterte mentioned it along with his fight against corruption. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency