SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The National Food Authority (NFA) on Wednesday started unloading the 340,000 bags of imported rice from Thailand and Vietnam, which arrived in the Port of Subic last June 5.
NFA Administrator Jason Aquino said the shipment was brought to Subic on-board MV TAY SON 2, which is currently berthed at the former Naval Supply Depot (NSD) here.
The shipment is part of the 500,000 bags (25 metric tons) of imported rice the NFA has procured. Another shipment of 160,000 bags of rice is expected to arrive next week.
Aquino said that 100,000 bags will be distributed in Region 2 (Cagayan Valley Region) while 400,000 bags will be distributed in Region 3 (Central Luzon).
He said the shipment was done through the government to government procurement scheme, and in line with the call of President Rodrigo Duterte to fast track the importation of rice to maintain food security in the country.
“As the President instructed, ‘Hindi na baleng sumobra, huwag lang kulangin (It is alright to exceed rather than lacking),” said Aquino, quoting the President.
However, the official clarified that only the marginalized population, the indigenous and NFA-accredited retailers endorsed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development Office (DSWDO) can avail of the rice at PHP27 per kilo.
Although the shipment arrived in the Port of Subic, it was only today (Wednesday) that NFA decided to unload it due to the continuous rains brought about by Typhoon Domeng and the southwest monsoon in the country for over a week now.
With the arrival of the long awaited imported rice, with more coming in August, NFA is expecting a drop in the price of commercial rice between PHP1 to PHP2 per kilo.
Aquino also clarified that NFA is not pro-importation, saying “as much as we would like to buy locally harvested palay, the price is too high and it is practically cheaper to buy imported rice.”
He also noted that more than one million bags of imported rice intended for Metro Manila has already arrived but could not be unloaded because of over-crowding of ships at the Port of Manila.
Earlier, before proceeding to NSD Compound, Aquino and NFA provincial directors made a courtesy call to Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman and administrator Wilma Eisma at the SBMA Board room.
Eisma praised the NFA officials for making Subic an NFA Disport (disembarking Port) as this will generate additional revenue for SBMA. Ruben Veloria/PNA-northboundasia.com