House minority leader calls for NFA chief’s resignation

MANILAHouse minority leader Danilo Suarez on Tuesday called for the resignation of National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Jason Aquino over the dwindling supply of cheap rice in Metro Manila.

In a press conference, Suarez expressed alarm over the recent announcement that the NFA rice stock has been depleted to less than a day's requirement despite Malacanang's assurance that there is still enough supply of the staple.

Suarez noted that the dwindling rice buffer stock would lead to higher prices and would force low-income Filipinos to settle for costly rice.

"While MalacaAang assured that our country has enough supply, we are concerned that rice traders will take advantage of this situation, to the detriment of the Filipino consumers," Suarez said.

Suarez slammed the incompetence of the NFA administrator for the current rice dilemma and for failing to comply with the mandated 15-day buffer stock policy.

"Hindi na pinapatagal yung ganyang kapalpakan (Such incompetence should no longer be tolerated.) He should not wait anymore. Tumataas na, tinatamaan na ang masa eh (The prices are rising, and the masses are affected)," Suarez said.

He said the situation would not have reached this point if only the Department of Agriculture gave utmost attention to food security.

On Friday, reports said President Rodrigo R. Duterte wanted the 18-member NFA Council abolished. However, MalacaAang later clarified that the President merely wants to reconstitute the council.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that the NFA and its Council would not be abolished, but Duterte wanted to place the NFA under the Office of the President.

The NFA Council is a policy-making body composed of representatives from government departments and financial institutions as well as private sectors and farmers sector.

Both the NFA Council and the NFA were created under Presidential Decree No. 1770, with the NFA making recommendations to the council on rice procurements. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency