PiAol: Tawi-Tawi rice center wasn’t presented in ‘proper context’

MANILA Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Manny PiAol on Monday said he was saddened that his idea to establish a rice trading center in Tawi-Tawi to end the country's rice crisis was not put in proper context.

I am saddened that the idea of setting up a Rice Trading Center in Tawi-Tawi to put an end to rice smuggling and raise revenues estimated at between PHP 1-B to P2-B every year was not presented by a reporter in the proper context, PiAol said in a Facebook post Sunday.

It was presented in a manner that it would appear that I am proposing the entry of smuggled rice, he added.

PiAol made this remark after President Rodrigo Duterte rejected his suggestion to put up a rice trading center in the island-province as a solution to the country's dwindling rice supply.

The smuggling itself? No, of course not, that will be destructive to the economy. You'd put down in the market in turmoil, Duterte said during a press conference at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 before his departure to Israel and Jordan.

Smuggled rice unrestrained? That would promote disorder in this country, the President added.

Duterte said he preferred smuggled rice to be confiscated and either distributed for free or sold at lower prices.

PiAol said he will submit a memorandum to the President on this matter when the latter returns to the Philippines.

Grateful

The DA chief, meanwhile, expressed gratitude to Duterte for his continued trust amid calls for his resignation.

I thank President Duterte for his continued trust and confidence. I promise to do my best to live up to his and the Filipino people's expectations, PiAol said.

Duterte earlier said the solution to the current rice problems did not necessarily involve firing people.

You know, all officials including me are bound by laws on the matter. Rice, whatever it is, there are laws to be followed. Maybe the laws are weak or unenforceable. All we have to do is to improve on those laws, not necessarily fire people, Duterte said.

Meanwhile, PiAol clarified that he had no plans to run as senator after Duterte said those calling for PiAol's resignation only had to wait until he runs for senator in the 2019 mid-term elections.

Hintayin na lang ninyo because October, I think Bello (referring to PiAol) is going to run for senator, there's no need to fire him. You just wait, September, October, Duterte said.

PiAol could not say whether the President was referring to him or Bello but noted the Chief Executive knew he had no desire to join the senatorial race.

I don't know if the President was referring to me when he said that 'Bello' will run for Senator. If it was me, I know the President is aware that I neither have plans nor desire to run for the Senate, PiAol said.

He also apologized for not being able to join the President's historic visits to Israel and Jordan, stressing he had pressing matters to prioritize.

I wish the President a successful trip to Israel and Jordan. I apologize that I could not join the Presidential Trip because I believe there are very pressing matters here in my Department that I have to attend to, he said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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