MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday joked that the rice crisis was caused by reformed drug addicts who are now eating regularly.
The President said drug addicts used to skip eating, but since many of them have been rehabilitated, more people are now consuming rice.
"Halos lahat sila payat. Kinakain ang shabu. Alam mo kung bakit payat sila? Hindi sila kumakain," Duterte said in a speech in Malacañang.
(Most of them were skinny. They were eating shabu. Do you know why they were skinny? They were not eating.)
“Marami nang na-rehab kaya tayo nagkaroon ng rice crisis. Kumakain na ang mga ulol eh."
(Many have been rehabilitated that’s why we now have a rice crisis. The fools have started eating again)
Critics and observers say that the government’s inefficient rice importation strategy, coupled with the infighting at the inter-agency National Food Authority Council and the series of deluge that destroyed farms, triggered the rice crisis.
Rice, the main driver of food prices, saw an inflation of 7.1 percent in August, while the headline rate accelerated to 6.4 percent, exceeding government and market forecasts.
Duterte recently issued orders removing non-tariff barriers in the importation of agricultural products, as the country’s economic managers point out that the soaring inflation is supply driven.
The President earlier blamed the soaring inflation in the Philippines to higher tariffs imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump on Chinese goods.
But a trade official said the trade spat between the world’s two largest economies was not a “major factor” driving up the country’s inflation.