Philippines eyes rice imports as contingency: COVID-19 task force

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 31 2020 11:35 AM

Rice is sold at a market in Quezon City. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA -- The Philippines' COVID-19 task force said Tuesday recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte the importation of 300,000 metric tons of rice as a contingency as the Luzon lockdown moved past the halfway mark.

The Philippine International Trading Corp will arrange the purchase through government-to-government arrangements, said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force.

The National Food Administration said last week that the country had "more than enough" rice supply for the month-long quarantine of Luzon. The state grains agency said it had 9.3 million bags of rice and unmilled rice on standby.

Even though food supplies are exempted from transport restrictions during the lockdown, several farmers and traders have reported difficulties in delivering their goods.

Nograles reminded authorities manning checkpoints and local government units to allow the unimpeded movement of cargoes.

Luzon's borders were temporarily closed on March 17 to limit the entry and exit of possible COVID-19 carriers. The lockdown is scheduled to end on April 12.