Piñol wants task group to counter rice cartels’ propaganda
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said he will recommend to President Duterte the creation of a task group that would give an accurate picture of rice situation in the country that would serve as a guide for decisions and importation.
Piñol, on his Facebook page, said his proposed task group would be composed of representatives from the Department of Agriculture (DA), National Food Authority (NFA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Bureau of Customs and the Philippine National Police.
He said he will ask Duterte to empower the group to open and inspect grains warehouses, including those suspected to contain smuggled rice.
He said the group is expected to establish the actual rice stock situation so that government could come up with the correct statistics which could be the basis of a sound agricultural planning.
He said the group should also “prove that there is enough rice supply in the country and that the media campaign to paint a picture of a possible rice shortage is being done to pressure government to change its policy not to allow importation during peak harvest season.”
Piñol said Duterte is not a man to be pressured by rice cartels and traders who would like to create a scenario of a rice shortage in the country.
He said he immediately sensed a “well-organized campaign to paint a scenario of rice shortage in the country and the ill-effects of the policy statement of President Duterte” after the President announced that he would not allow rice importations during peak harvest season to protect Filipino farmers.
“The Duterte government cannot be blackmailed,” he warned.