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Ba’t si Jason Aquino pa? Kiko: Rice crisis over if Duterte followed Sonny Dominguez

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President Rodrigo Duterte must “listen” to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez rather than National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Jason Aquino in finding solutions to rice crisis and soaring inflation.

Senator Kiko Pangilinan made the remark on Monday when asked whether the opposition group, where he belongs, would be willing to help the Duterte administration in addressing the issue.

“Syempre, wala tayong problemang tumulong. In fact, tumutulong na tayo sa pamamagitan ng pagbigay ng mungkahi kung pano masolusyunan ang mga problema,” Pangilinan said in a radio interview.

“Alam niyo, si Secretary Dominguez, Sonny Dominguez, Secretary of Finance, dating Secretary of Agriculture ‘yan,” he said.

Pangilinan continued, “Kung siya (Dominguez) ang pakikinggan ng ating Pangulo dito sa problema ng bigas, sana noong umpisa pa lamang naiwasan ito.”

The senator noted that when he used to be chairman of Finance Committee of the Commission on Appointments (CA), he defended Dominguez’s appointment.

“Kasi alam po natin ang kakayahan (ni Secretary Dominguez). Kung papakinggan po siya at iyong iba pa pong mga marunong sa usapin po ng agrikultura eh palagay ko masosolusyunan ang problema,” he said.

The Department of Finance (DoF) is part of the inter-agency NFA Council which was headed then by Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco Jr.

But Evasco was removed as head of the council at the height of his debate with Aquino concerning rice importatio.

“Si CabSec Evasco (ay si Aquino) sila ang nagtatalo noon. Ang gusto ni Evasco noong una, eh yung 8,500 metric tons (MT) ibigay sa private sector para walang gastos ang gobyerno. May taripa pa. Iyon nagdebate na sila,” Pangilinan said.

“Ayaw ni Administrator Jason, gusto naman ni Evasco. Doon nag-umpisa iyon eh,” he said.

Pangilinan added, “Ang economic team, gusto na hayaan din ang pribadong sektor na mag-ambag dito sa gastusin ng pag-import. At meron pang buwis.

“Eh doon unang nagdebate. Ang pinakinggan, ‘yung NFA Administrator, hindi nakapag-import,” he said.

Then, the NFA Council investigated the reported rebagging or diversion of NFA rice. “Meron nang sulat si CabSec Evasco. Pinadala sa Malacañang.”

“Sa halip na pakinggan ‘yung nag-iimbestiga, eh nilipat ‘yung nag-iimbestiga at nanatiling nandiyan pa rin at wala nang imbestigasyon iyong sinasabing rebagging,” Pangilinan said.

“Iyon ko ang nangyari diyan kaya nagka-problema tayo dito po sa rice supply natin,” the opposition senator said.

“Kung wala yung ganyang bangayan at pinakinggan lamang ‘yung mga mas merong nakakaalam doon sa problema ng agrikultura, eh dapat sana wala na tayo rito ngayon (sa ganitong sitwasyon),” he said.