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‘Di ako pakialamero, may ‘K’ ako: Piñol grumbles about being frozen out of NFA Council meetings chaired by Evasco

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Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol took exception to a “dismissed Malacanang Undersecretary’s” claim that he was was meddling into the affairs of the National Food Authority Council especially on the issue of whether to import rice or not this year.

In a statement, Pinol pointed that as head of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), he was “by law” supposed to sit in the NFA Council.

“As Secretary of Agriculture, I do not participate in the decision-making on whether to import or not and when to import. But since it will be the Filipino rice farmers who will be affected by the decision, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries from time to time shares its views on the issue. That is definitely not meddling with the functions of an agency that is not under the DAF but simply performing our functions as a department involved in producing food and protecting the farmers and fishermen,” said Pinol.

Former Undersecretary Maia Chiara Halmen Valdez, whose termination from office was publicly announced by President Rodrigo Duterte last April 5, claimed that Pinol should not have sided with NFA Administrator Jason Aquino versus Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco in the NFA Council debate on rice imports.

For the record, Pinol pointed out that he does not support both Aquino’s plan to import rice from other governments and Evasco’s plan to import through private traders because he believed the NFA should buy rice from local farmers.

Pinol also noted that in the last 10 months, he has been ignored by the NFA Council where Evasco sat as co-chair with Aquino. “I have not been invited to the meetings of the Council and I attended the meeting only once early in my assumption as Secretary of Agriculture,” said Pinol.

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