MANILA - National Food Authority Administrator Jason Aquino should step down from his post if he cannot perform his mandate, a lawmaker said Tuesday.
Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, said the NFA failed its mandate to buy "palay" or unmilled rice from farmers at P17 per kilogram and sell milled rice to consumers at around P27 to P32.
The agency worsened the situation when they announced their failure, triggering panic among the public about a perceived rice shortage, she said.
"Sabi ng Palace, those who cannot perform their job, 'wag niyo nang hintaying tanggalin kayo ni Presidente; mag-resign na kayo...I don’t want to be blunt but if you cannot do the job then resign and let others do the job," Villar told ANC's Headstart.
"'Wag mo sabihin sa akin that you cannot do the job. You’re supposed to do the job at all costs because that’s your mandate," she said.
Villar, who led hearings on the issue last month, said they have asked the inter-agency NFA Council to increase the buying price to P18 from P17, even if this might increase the selling price to about P30 to P34.
Smuggled rice seized by the Bureau of Customs should also be turned over to the NFA and sold at a lower price, she added.
This comes as the Congress deliberates on the tariffication of rice, which will replace the country's rice import quota after the agreement with the World Trade Organization expired in July last year.
"Tariffs will protect our farmers. sa Vietnam, they produce palay at P6, dito sa Philippines P12. We really cannot compete. We need to pass a tariffication law to protect the farmers and at the same time that the proceeds of the tariffs will go to rice competitiveness and enhancement fund," said Villar.