President Duterte fires undersecretary; 3 more to go

TALAVERA, Nueva Ecija-- President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Wednesday said he has just fired a female undersecretary and three others will have to go over allegations of corruption.

"There will be five in all," the President said in a speech Wednesday during the Grand Harvest Festival here.

The Chief Executive, however, did not name names.

It was Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol who later identified Almen Valdez, a lawyer from the Office of the Cabinet Secretary, as the undersecretary who has just been sacked by President Duterte.

Pinol said the President believed that Valdez overstepped on the power of the National Food Authority (NFA) in allowing an importation of rice.

Valdez is a holdover of the Aquino administration under the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

The DA chief, however, said he got no idea on the names of other undersecretaries which President Duterte said are on the way out.

Meanwhile, Pinol pushed for 200 cavans-per-hectare yield in rice which, he said, will be realized through intensified hybrid production.

He was talking with farmers waiting for the arrival of the President who was the guest of honor in the Grand Harvest Festival steered by hybrid rice seeds producer SL Agritech Corporation which is owned by Chinese Filipino Henry Lim at a farmers cooperative compound in Barangay Tabacao, this town.

The company that was established in September 2000 under the corporate ownership and management of Sterling Paper Group of Companies, pushes for at least one million hectares to be planted with hybrid rice during rainy season as the key to rice sufficiency before 2029.

The festival aims to showcase the performance of SL hybrid seeds and serve as venue to share the benefits of hybrid technology.

Pinol said the country cannot depend on importation.

Source: Philippines News Agency