Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Monday warned rice traders against creating an artificial shortage, saying he will not hesitate to ask President Rodrigo Duterte to come up with a task force that will open and inspect their warehouses.
“This government cannot be blackmailed. We know our numbers, we know our data,” Piñol said in an interview, as he assured that the Department of Agriculture (DA) is on target to achieve its 100 percent rice self-sufficiency target by 2020.
“The moment I would sense that there is an attempt on the part of the rice traders and the rice cartel to create an artificial shortage, I will recommend to the President the creation of a task force that will open up and inspect warehouses in the country and those holding rice should be charged with economic sabotage,” he added.
Piñol said the rice cartel is running a “PR campaign” to project a scenario of a possible inflation. He was referring to a newspaper report which quoted New York-based Global Source that warned on inflation as a result of Duterte’s order to prioritize buying rice from local farms.
“You have to understand that I’m a former journalist. I can sense this from a mile away, yung ganitong mind conditioning ng mga operations, naiintindihan ko yan,” the Cabinet official said.
“Yung mga nagpakalat ng kwento diyan na kapag hindi daw nag-import, magkakaroon ng rice shortage, they are fooling the Filipino people,” he added.
Piñol said Duterte asked the National Food Authority (NFA) to purchase rice from local farmers instead of importing only until after the peak harvest season.
“I’m not an economist, okay? But how can a temporary deferment of importation cause inflation? Papaano? Ang sinasabi lang namin, i-defer muna kasi sasabay sa harvest eh. Yun lang naman, napaka-simpleng hiling ng mga magsasaka yun,” he said.
On his official Facebook account, Piñol said the income of rice farmers would increase by P24.38 billion in the first quarter alone because of Duterte’s directive to defer rice importation.
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SOURCE: YOUTUBE, GMANEWS