MANILA — Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Tuesday addressed calls for his resignation after proposing to reduce import taxes on rice.
"I know where they are coming from. I serve at the pleasure of the president. Kung ayaw na sa akin ng Pangulo ay puwede niya akong tanggalin. I have served 4 presidents," Diokno told TeleRadyo Serbisyo.
"Hindi naman porke may proposal ka na hindi angkop sa proposal ng ibang grupo, magre-resign ka na," he said.
"You give your best recommendation. That is your duty."
The finance department, along with the National Economic and Development Authority, earlier proposed reducing rice import tariff rates temporarily to zero percent or a maximum of 10 percent to arrest the surge in prices.
However, a farmers' group opposed lowering tariffs on imported rice, saying it might not necessarily help the country get more of its supply.
"Hindi rin sigurado (we're not sure that) the Philippines can get any supply if we lower the tariff. I think India has closed down and Vietnam is---they want to sell up to December and they are selling not by volume. And I think Indonesia went to Thailand to buy some rice also," Rosendo So, president of the Samahan ng Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), said last week.
"So if we want to lower the tariff, and the Philippines also wants to buy rice from those countries, it will jack up the price," he said.