Presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte will ban rice imports by the private sector as he moves to curb smuggling of the country’s staple grain, his incoming agriculture secretary said Wednesday.
Rice smuggling has been linked to price manipulation and Duterte, during a Senate hearing in 2014, said he would “gladly kill” rice smugglers in Davao, where he was mayor at that time.
“Ang direktiba ng president-elect, there will be no more importation by the private sector, it will only be NFA. We will stop rice smuggling. I can assure the Filipino people, rice smuggling can be stopped,” former North Cotabato Gov. Emmanuel Pinol told DZMM.
Pinol said Duterte ordered him to “make sure there is available and affordable food for the Filipino and stop corruption in the Department of Agriculture.”
The former governor, who had worked for the Duterte campaign, said he recently turned down a request from someone who asked him for a permit to import garlic and onions.
“Gusto ninyo bang barilin ako ni Duterte sa harap ng maraming tao? I cannot fail my president,” he said.
The 71-year-old Duterte won the May 9 elections on the promise of a ruthless campaign against crime and corruption. Uplifting the lives of farmers is part of his eight-point agenda.
Duterte is forming his cabinet from Davao ahead of his assumption into office on June 30. On Tuesday, Las Pinas Representative Mark Villar, the son of former senator and real estate tycoon Manuel Villar, said he accepted Duterte’s offer to become public works secretary.
The incoming president has also named former agriculture secretary Carlos Dominguez as finance secretary, Arthur Tugade as transportation and communications secretary, and Jesus Dureza as peace adviser. He has offered former defense secretary Gilberto Teodoro to return to his old post.