Duterte OKs major changes in NFA

Tuesday, 17 Apr, 2018

NFA administrator Jason Aquino (left) attends a Senate hearing on rice shortage.

Malacañang has confirmed Secretary to the Cabinet Leonsio Evasco is no longer the chairman of the National Food Authority Council, after President Duterte presided another meeting with the concerned officials last Monday.

"The NFA Council will not be abolished", Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this clarification a day after Duterte presided a meeting with the NFA Council.

Magbanua also disclosed that Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol was now the head of the NFA Council.

Roque said the NFA was authorized to import 250,000 metric tons of rice through the government-to-government (G2G) mode to bolster the rice stock of the country. It's not clear yet how Duterte's new order will affect this.

The NFA Council led by Evasco previously endorsed the private sector-led importation to do away with the old G2G that supposedly lacks transparency and competition.

"The President is considering the approval of rice importation to be centralized under the office of the [Department of Agriculture] undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, subject to the review of the Office of the Executive Secretary", Roque said.

Duterte also approved a reorganization of the NFA Council, allowing the Department of Social Welfare and Development to replace the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) in the policy-making body.

Although the NFA Council would not be abolished, Roque said that it would be reorganized.

If importation was necessary, the NFA Council preferred government-to-private (G2P) importation where rice was imported through private importers.

"Subsequent importation is to be done by G2P or auction and importation will be implemented or supervised by the Executive Council Committee headed by the Office of the President (OP)", said the spokesman.

In a statement on April 6, Roque said that President Rodrigo Duterte was eyeing to place the NFA under the Office of the President.