MANILA Malacanang clarified on Tuesday that only the National Food Authority (NFA) Council will speak on the country's rice situation.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this statement after Senator Cynthia Villar, in a Senate hearing, scolded NFA administrator Jason Aquino for announcing that its buffer stock was good for less than two days.
The NFA Council is the NFA's policy-making body tasked to ensure food security of the country and the stability of supply and price of the staple grain-rice.
Villar, chair of the Senate Agriculture and Food Committee, said that Aquino should not make such pronouncements to cause panic.
Roque said during the Cabinet meeting on Monday, the NFA Council assured that there is absolutely no shortage of rice and that Aquino's pronouncement that rice supply was good for less than two days is absolutely untrue.
The NFA Council briefed the Cabinet that there is absolutely no shortage of rice, that the reported shortfall or the reported stockpile available for the country which allegedly was only for 1.5 days is absolutely untrue, Roque said in a Palace briefing.
Roque explained that NFA only constitutes a minority of the country's rice supply while commercial rice constituted a majority.
Meaning, if we only had NFA in our possession, we would only have 1.5 days worth of supply. But the reality of course is that NFA constitutes a minority of our rice supply. (The) bulk of our rice supply consists of commercial rice. Henceforth, it will be the NFA Council that shall speak on the current rice situation, Roque said.
Roque said that there was an acknowledgment that statements made by the NFA administrator caused panic which probably caused prices to rice.
That was why the President (Rodrigo R. Duterte) said that henceforth, all information on the country's rice supply must emanate from the NFA Council, Roque said.
Again, the 1.5 days is only if it is NFA that is the only supplier of rice in the Philippine which is not the case because as I repeat, they supply a minority of our rice requirements, Roque said.
Source: Philippine News Agency