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Turf war tales: Duterte says Evasco’s powers removed for ‘being too shortsighted’

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President Rodrigo Duterte stripped Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Jun” Evasco off his powers because he was supposedly “too shortsighted” at the height of the rice shortage during summer.

Duterte did not name Evasco in his speech in Malacañang Wednesday (June 13) but it was obvious who he referred to since the former rebel priest was ousted as National Food Authority (NFA) chairman last April.

“So we had a bit of trouble dito. I had to cut some powers of Cabinet members for just being too shortsighted or jumping into others’ territory, turf war,” he said.

Earlier this year, rice prices spiked due to reports of a rice shortage. The NFA Council led by Evasco blamed NFA administrator Jason Aquino for the statement, saying there was only tight supply of cheap rice.

Evasco was also at loggerheads with Aquino regarding rice importation.

Duterte said it was important that people saw the government’s warehouses were full with rice.

“Ang sabi ko sa kanila, bakit hindi pumupuno ‘yung up to the ceiling? Ang atin kasing buffer stock was only good for three to four days. You must be crazy. It’s always visual ‘pag nakikita ng tao na ‘yung bigas niya umaabot doon sa ceiling, that’s a very consoling sight for him,” he said.

Duterte said he would rather that the government’s warehouses were full with rice and then sell it cheaply in case there is a glut in the market.

“Tutal gobyerno man itong atin. We only go inside the private territory of merchants until and unless the supplies are no longer there,” he said.