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Buhusan ng bigas! Duterte orders non-stop rice importation to curb inflation

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By Prince Golez

President Rodrigo Duterte has authorized the “unimpeded” importation of rice to increase supply and lower the price of the country’s main food staple.

Duterte ordered the measure as a means to control the rising inflation in the country, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.

The Philippine Statistics Authority earlier said the country’s annual inflation rate rose to 6.7 percent in September from 6.4 percent in August.

“(The President) wants to flood the market with rice so that even if the price of crude and other oil prices should go up still further that the people have access to affordable rice,” Roque said.

The Palace official said even “giant” companies like San Miguel Corporation could now import rice provided they pay the proper tariffs.

“Kasi po ngayon meron pang accreditation ang importers. Meron pa ngayong dapat order from the NFA (National Food Authority) Council kung ilan ang i-a-angkat na bigas. With this order of the President, wala na pong ganyang restrictions. It’s a free market now for rice,” he added.

Roque stressed that the NFA no longer has the power to accredit who can import and determine how much to import.

“Although the position of some is that we are not impeding the importation of rice, the reality was there were maximum volumes allowed, and it was still the NFA dictating how much rice should be imported by the country. With the President’s directive, the NFA no longer has any say on how much rice should be imported. Anyone who can afford it and will pay tariffs will be allowed to import rice,” he said.