& # 39; Maybe the laws are weak or are not enforceable. All we have to do is improve those laws, do not necessarily fire people, "says President Rodrigo Duterte
MANILA, PHILIPPINES – President Rodrigo Duterte said that he will not fire agriculture minister Emmanuel Piñol, National Food Authority Administrator Jason Aquino and other NFA officials because of the rice crisis that has led to a sharp price increase of the staple.
Instead of firing his people, Duterte said there must be a strict implementation of laws to address the rice problem.
"You know, all the officials, including myself, are bound by laws – rice, whatever it is – there are laws that need to be followed, maybe the laws are weak or are not enforceable, we just need to improve those laws, do not necessarily fire people, "Duterte said on Sunday, September 2, prior to his flight to Israel for an official visit.
Duterte also said that he did not commit a "serious offense" in the midst of the problems with the basic food of the country. Apart from the high prices, some imported rice were found to be infected with weevils or bukbok. (READ: EXPLAINER: What is bukbok?)
Although the question was about Piñol, Duterte incorrectly referred to secretary of employment Silvestre Bello III in his reply.
"Hintayin after long ninyo (Wait), because October, I think, Bello is going to run for Senator, it is not necessary to fire him. Let's just wait [for] September October. And I do not see a serious offense there. We have not really lost anything, except that there is an aberration in the market, "said the president.
Lawmakers, however, see it differently, because they have called on Piñol and Aquino to resign. The Senate and the House of Representatives also plan to conduct separate probes in the rice crisis. (READ: accepted challenge: Piñol eats bukbok rice, galunggong)
No against legalization of smuggled rice
Duterte, however, opposes Piñol's proposal to legalize the import of smuggled rice to solve the high rice prices in Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
"No, the smuggling itself, of course not, that will be destructive to the economy, you will disturb the market, smuggled rice … that would promote disorder in this country," said the president.
Instead, Duterte said the government could import and sell rice at a price that would not yield any profit.
"Maybe we can import and lose. Import natin, ipagbili natin at a price after malulugi tayo (Let's import it and sell it at a price that will not let us earn) …. We're going to pin at a price that the Filipino can afford … At least meron tayong benchmark kung magkano, kung maubos ang pera natin (We will at least have a benchmark of how much, if we lose our money), "he said.
Zamboanga City and Basilan have previously declared disaster due to rice scandals. The rice prices in these two areas reached a level of P70 per kilo. Piñol also said that a kilo of rice in some areas in Tawi-Tawi after Eid & # 39; l reached Fitr as high as P100. (READ: Rising rice prices: what lawmakers, experts say) – Rappler.com