Rice supply, priority; No leakage of sensitive drugs info — Duterte

Published November 22, 2019, 12:20 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



Fred M. Lobo
Fred M. Lobo

President Duterte has declared that availability of rice supply remains top priority to ensure “food for the people.”

Better to have rice than “memo-rice” as other agricultural concerns can easily be addressed, the President said.


Malacanang said the President has not ordered the Department of Agriculture (DA) to stop rice importation or move for the immediate repeal of the Rice Tariffication Law as  demanded by farmers’ groups in order to check a rice supply glut.

A food crisis might erupt again he warned.


“I’m not about ready to do that. I do not want to have a food crisis again because… it is just a serious problem…if you do not have food for the people, that is different,” Duterte said in an interview over ABS-CBN’s Failon Ngayon program.

Solomic wisdom at work, Digong-style.


“You have more serious challenge there and maybe hard to resolve until there is really food on the table,” the President added.

A tough balancing act for the President.


Justifying rice importation, Duterte admitted that the country cannot be rice-sufficient. “ as it’s impossible (due to) climate change.”

“Then you have people growth, and the mismanaged problems of the government,” he  added.


Duterte, in the meantime, apologized to the country’s farmers and promised to meet them soon to look into their problems.

Let’s have a dialogue  to reach  a “happy balance” between rice importation and local production, he said.


“Do not despair. We can always correct the wrong. I apologize to you if the result we wanted to get during the early days of my administration has been well, delayed or not good, not to your expectations…I will resolve the problem,” Duterte assured.

Yes to review and corrective actions on agricultural policy, whenever necessary.


Farmers had earlier complained about plummeting palay prices amid the cheap rice imports following the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law, to an average farm-gate price of P15.43 per kilogram from P20 per kilogram early this year.

“As of this time, there is no order (yes) to stop rice importation given Secretary (William) Dar of the Department of Agriculture per the latter,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.


However, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said that  the government will in the meantime  provide financial aid to alleviate farmers’ woes.

“The grant of unconditional cash transfers to affected farmers was approved in the last Cabinet meeting, “ he assured.


.Meanwhile, President Duterte cautioned Vice President Robredo as co-chairman of the Inter-Agency Committee on Illegal Drugs (ICAD)  against any disclosure of sensitive matters pertaining to the anti-drugs war of the government.

That would jeopardize the “security of the state,” he said.


Duterte expressed his concern in a television interview after the vice president’s meeting with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), community-based advocacy groups, and US Embassy officials.

“There’s a limit to that. I know that she’s a lawyer and she has other advisers… There are certain matters that should be kept with the government, that classified matters cannot be shared,” the President said.


Robredo, after assuming her role as ICAD co-chairman as per appointment by Duterte, asked the Philippine National Police (PNP) to give her access to the list of “high-value targets” in the anti-illegal drugs campaign.

Willing to provide Robredo with the high-value target drug list, but only in a closed-door meeting withauthorized officers and personnel, the PDEA said.


“We will be transparent as possible so the people would know what’s happening, but we will not divulge information that would not be good to the campaign I understand what I can’t say to the media. I’m not allowed to talk about it if it’s sensitive,” Robredo assured.

More meeting of minds and cooperation would help ensure the success of the anti-drugs campaign.