Duterte to NFA: Ignore council, import rice

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President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday met with primary rice traders in Malacañang.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 7) —  President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday ordered the National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Jason Aquino to ignore their agency's policy-making body and push through with the rice importation.

"Sinabi ko na sa kanya [I told him], 'Ignore the Rice Council which is mandated by law, go ahead and make the importations,'" he said in a speech during a dinner concert in Pasay City.

Duterte on Thursday also met with primary rice traders in Malacañang. After this, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte wanted to transfer the NFA under the Office of the President.

The President added recent warnings of an NFA rice shortage "put people on a very unsettling environment."

News of the shortage first erupted in February when the NFA said it would temporarily stop issuing NFA rice to accredited retailers due to low supply.

The NFA Council is led by Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., who has been in conflict with Aquino over the rice importations.

Evasco earlier said 250,000 metric tons of NFA rice are set to arrive by June, "so there is nothing to worry (about)."

NFA rice is at ₱27 to ₱32 a kilo, while commercial rice costs ₱36 to ₱65 a kilo.

The NFA caters to 10 percent of the total rice consumption of the country. It serves Classes D and E, or around 8 to 10 million Filipinos.