Agriculture Secretary issues warning to greedy rice cartels: If you are not ready for a fight to the finish, do not mess with Duterte

If Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol  were to believe, the rice cartel in the country are planning to sabotage our rice supply for their economic gain.

But before they could carry out their plan to full blast, the Agriculture Secretary has issued a fair warning: “If you are not ready for a fight to the finish, do not mess with this guy.”

Piñol’s warning came after sensing the propaganda machine of the rice cartels have swing into action.

To give the public the picture of the state of rice supply, Sec. Piñol offered to explain and wrote:

1. President Duterte did not issue a “No Importation” order. All that he said was that importation of rice from Vietnam and Thailand should not be made during the peak harvest season of the local rice farms.

The President made this directive simply because as a former local executive himself, he knows, based on his experience, that importations made during the peak harvest season dampen the buying price of the paddy rice produced by Filipino farmers.

2. For the First Quarter of 2017, Filipino rice farmers harvested 4.14-million metric tons of paddy rice from an area of over 997,000 hectares and this production is 210,000 metric tons more than that of the First Quarter of 2016.

3. Before the end of December 2016, the National Food Authority (NFA) brought in 250,000 metric tons of rice from Thailand and Vietnam.

4. Before the end of February, the private sector brought in 650,000-metric tons of rice, bringing the total volume of imported rice to 900,000-metric tons.

5. The smuggling of rice from Vietnam via the backdoor is on-going and the volume could not be verified but the stocks are unloaded through the different ports of Zamboanga and brought to various places in the Southern Philippines, including Cebu.

However, the former journalist and retired politician and now the DA Secretary stated his stand on the issue.

“I could care less if the rice cartel or the rice traders earn boat loads of money bringing in imported rice.

All that I asked the President was that there should be No Rice Importation during the peak harvest season so that the Filipino rice farmers are protected from price manipulation.

I am convinced, however, that there is a sinister plot to again discredit the President by making it appear that his decision to defer the importation of rice until after the harvest season is a wrong policy that would result in a rice shortage.

Whoever is behind this, I am telling you: You are making a big mistake.

The Duterte Government cannot be blackmailed.”

oday, I will write a memorandum to the President recommending the creation of a Task Group composed of representatives of the following agencies:

– Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF)
– National Food Authority (NFA),
– Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)
– Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR)
– Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)
– National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)
– Bureau of Customs
– Philippine National Police

Piñol went on to enumerate his next plan of action to counter the plans of the greedy rice cartels.

“I will ask the President to empower the Task Group to open and inspect all grains warehouses all over the country, including those suspected to contain smuggled rice.

The Task Group is expected to accomplish two things:

1. Prove that there is enough rice supply in the country and that the media campaign to paint a picture of a possible rice shortage is being done to pressure government to change its policy not to allow importation during peak harvest season.

2. Establish the actual rice stock situation so that the government could come up with the correct statistics which could be the basis of a sound agricultural planning, especially when it comes to the country’s rice production program.

Hopefully, the Task Force will be able to give us an accurate baseline information and a very clear picture of the rice industry in the country.”

Your thoughts, please!

Source: Sec. Manny Pinol


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