MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has authorized the importation of an additional 250,000 metric tons of rice, a cabinet official overseeing procurement of the staple said Thursday.
The 250,000 metric tons will be on top of 325,000 metric tons that was bought in 2017 and will be delivered in February, said Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco, who chairs the inter-agency National Food Authority Council.
Evasco said he was informed late Wednesday that the President had approved the additional imports.
"We have no option but to follow the President to activate the 250,000 metric tons na naka-standby that will be on top of the 325,000 na magdating anytime this month," he told ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda.
(We have no option but to follow the President to activate the 250,000 metric tons on standby that will be on top of the 325,000 that will arrive anytime this month.)
Evasco said the NFA Council was being "very very careful" in importing rice so as not to compete with local farmers, especially during the harvest season.
The government is expecting palay or paddy rice harvest of 3 million metric tons in the first quarter, which will augment the 2.8 million metric ton surplus from 2017, Agriculture Secretary Emanuel Piñol told DZMM.
Piñol said there was no shortage in subsidized rice sold by the NFA, adding raising prices due to an alleged lack in supply amounted to "daylight robbery."