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Palpak! LP stalwarts want Jason Aquino, Manny Piñol’s heads to roll

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By Xave Gregorio

Liberal Party stalwarts, including its chair Vice President Leni Robredo and president Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, are pushing for National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Jason Aquino, other NFA officials and Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol to be axed due to their failure to address the rice crisis which caused prices of the staple to shoot up.

In a speech in Tagalog, Robredo said Monday (September 3) that the NFA needs a new leader who is “competent and trustworthy.”

“Gawing patas, malinis, at tapat ang mga proseso ng NFA upang tunay itong tumutok sa pag-stabilize ng presyo ng bigas, at hindi magamit lamang para lamanan ang bulsa ng iilan,” she said.

Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV also hit the NFA for “lacking leadership” amid the rice crisis, which has pushed rice prices up to P70 per kilogram in Zamboanga City and Basilan.

“Hindi ho sila nagpo-procure sa mga PIlipinong magsasaka, hindi ho sila nagi-import. Walang leadership na pinapakita,” he said.

“Naghahanap po tayo ng leadership sa isyu na ito and I think magsisimula po ang solusyon sa pagpapalit po ng liderato. Maghanap tayo ng mga taong kayang gawin ‘yung trabaho nila,” he added.

Pangilinan called on President Rodrigo Duterte to instruct the NFA Council to create a task force on rice emergency headed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, which would be in charge of rice procurement instead of the NFA.

“Sila na ang baguhin itong naging direksyon na palpak na administrayson under NFA Adminstrator Aquino. So this is a compelete step or several next steps na dapat sana pakinggan ng ating gobyerno, ng administrayon para masolusyunan ‘yung problema ng supply ng bigas,” Pangilinan said.

Several senators have repeatedly called for NFA’s Aquino to resign or be axed due to the agency’s failure to maintain rice stocks and to address the rice crisis which led to prices of the staple skyrocketing.

However, their appeals have fallen on deaf ears, with President Rodrigo Duterte refusing to fire him and Piñol. Instead, the President shifted the blame onto “weak” or “unenforceable” laws.