MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Jason Aquino to proceed with rice importation amid the dwindling supply of government-subsidized grain.
"Sinabi ko na sa kanya, "ignore the (NFA) Rice Council which is mandated by law, go ahead and make the importations,'" Duterte said in a speech at a dinner party with political allies in Pasay City.
The NFA council, which decides on rice importation, is different from the NFA, the state grains agency.
The NFA council includes representatives from the finance, trade and socioeconomic development departments and the Bangko Sentral.
Duterte added that he met with rice traders and appealed to use their inventory.
"Sabi ko sa kanila whether it is really man-made or there's a crisis, ang sabi ko just help me make it through the night. And of course I had a response and in return I had also—I heard plenty of complaints," he said.
Duterte said he also acknowledged the complaints of rice traders and took action.
"But I heard a mouthful of complaints. Hindi ko na lang balikan sa inyo because I do not want really to spoil the night. Marami akong ginawa," he said.
The NFA earlier said the agency's rice stocks have been depleted due to multiple typhoons before the end of 2017. It said a request for additional importation has yet to be approved.
NFA officials said its buffer stock will only last for 2 days, far below the required 15-day buffer stock.