Duterte sacks Evasco protege Halmen Valdez for failed mutiny to oust NFA chief Jason Aquino

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President Rodrigo Duterte has fired a protege of Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco for plotting to oust National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Jason Aquino and trying to railroad the importation of rice during the harvest season.

A Politiko source confirmed that Maia Chiara Halmen Reina A. Valdez, an undersecretary of Evasco’s office and the chair of the NFA Council, was axed by Duterte a day after he told Interior Secretary Mike Sueno in front of other Cabinet Secretaries: “You’re fired.”

“I was appalled na may isang undersecretary na ni-review nila iyong decision ni Jason Aquino na dineny iyong importation. Eh istorya istorya na gusto magbigay and it was appealed doon mismo sa Malacañang. Filed sa Office of the President na,” said Dutetre in a speech Wednesday.
‘May isang undersecretary na babae, holdover iyan, napag-usapan namin sa chopper namin kanina. Papunta ako dito. Pa-landing ako dito, sabi ko, ‘Tawagan mo ang Malacañang. She’s fired. So pangalawa siya,” he added.

A Politiko source said Dutere got wind of Valdez’s circular moving to remove Aquino from the NFA when Aquino was absent in the NFA Council.
The source said Valdez also extended the importation of rice through the minimum access volume from February to March on her and issued another circular extending import period up to June in the middle of the harest season of Filipino farmers.

“Sabi ko, ‘Anong mukha ko na iharap ko sa farmers? Why would we allow importation to compete with local product?’ Hanggang ngayon, hindi ko mabasa anong ginawa nilang rason. Of course, hindi natuloy dahil binara ko. Subsequently, sabi ko, stop, Open market na tayo, pero you know, you have to protect the Filipino,” Duterte said.