MANILA Lawmakers belonging to the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives on Wednesday filed a joint resolution, seeking a PHP10-billion supplemental budget to fund the local palay (unhusked rice) procurement of the National Food Authority (NFA).
The seven-member bloc filed House Resolution No. 28 to provide additional procurement funds to purchase at least 500,000 metric tons of palay from local farmers for the period of September 2018 to January 2019 at an enhanced buying price of PHP20 per kg.
The bloc said increasing NFA's buying price for palay could help the agency carry out its local procurement function and "do its part in addressing the rice crisis."
"The country is entering the harvest season of the lean second cropping. The NFA must be refueled with adequate funds so it can procure a substantial portion from the coming harvest," the resolution read.
The Makabayan bloc consists of Gabriela Reps. Arlene Brosas and Emmi de Jesus, ACT Teachers Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao, and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago.
In a statement, the NFA management assured the public that the delivery of its services will continue even as administrator Jason Aquino has requested to be relieved from his post.
The NFA said Aquino, who is currently on leave, shall remain head of the food agency until a replacement is appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The NFA said there will be no disruption in its intensified rice distribution and other services, even if the administrator is on leave, as the agency's systems and operational procedures are in place and management follows a hierarchy of leadership.
He also directed a more aggressive and pro-active stance in palay procurement and find innovative ways to encourage farmers to sell their produce to the agency despite its low procurement price, compared with prices offered by private traders.
As early as the second week of September, Aquino has assured farmers that NFA is ready to buy their produce. Procurement funds and palay buying logistics are available in strategic locations across the country.
Aquino has assured farmers the agency is not pro-importation and would be very happy to buy as much of their local produce for the government's buffer stocking.
"But we are happier now that farmers are enjoying much higher income from their harvest because that is the very essence of NFA's intervention to make farmers earn a good income from their produce," Aquino earlier said. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency