Pres. Duterte orders NFA to buy rice from local farmers

DAVAO CITY – President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered Monday the National Food Authority (NFA) to buy the produce of rice farmers in the country instead of importing the commodity.

The President issued the directive during a press briefing at the Davao International Airport prior to his departure to the Middle East for an official visit.

He will visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar until April 16.

Priorities must be given to rice farmers in the country than importing the commodity, President Duterte pointed out.

“Why import rice? It will kill our farmers. We will not compete with our rice farmers,” the President emphasized.

President Duterte’s resolve to protect local rice farmers came after he fired a high official at the Office of Cabinet Secretary for approving rice importation.

The President dismissed Undersecretary Maria Chiara Halmen Reina Valdez for overruling an earlier decision of NFA Administrator Jason Aquino to suspend the importation of rice as harvest is ongoing in the country.

Duterte also denied reports of in-fighting among his cabinet members.

“There is no in-fighting (in my cabinet),” he pointed out, adding, “I just don’t want people who are corrupt.” ALEXANDER LOPEZ/