President Rodrigo Duterte revealed that he personally sought out former Major Jason Aquino to head the National Food Authority (NFA) to insulate the rice import monopoly from corruption.
So when Maia Chiara Halmen Reina A. Valdez, An undersecretary of Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco and his alter ego in the NFA Council, plotted to oust Aquino from office, Duterte had no choice but to step in especially after he smelled something rotten.
”Hindi kasi nila kilala ‘yan. But one of those who rebelled against the government before, mga rebelde ‘yan eh. Kilala ko ‘yan noon. Inilagay ko diyan, kasi sabi ko, ‘diyan ka’,” said Duterte in an interview in Palawan.
“You want reforms? Iyon man ang complaints nila ‘di ba? Corruption, reforms. ‘O sige then diyan ka’,” he added.
Before and after his appointment as NFA chair in January, both Evasco and Valdez have villified Aquino in media to force Duterte to get a replacement but their efforts went for naught.
Duterte said he fired Valdez, who was part of Senator Kiko Pangilinan’s team when he took over the agriculture portfolio in the latter part of the past administration, for pushing what he felt was a nonsensical idea to authorize the import of rice in the middle of this year’s harvest season.
“You know, common sense ‘yan harvest time. Ngayon kung you allow the import, it will compete with the local prices. Eh kawawa ang Pilipino, hindi mabenta ‘yung bigas niya. So may nag-apply dito ng importation for so many sacks of rice. He (Aquino) denied it. Correctly, harvest time ngayon eh. Harvest time ngayon,” said Duterte.
“I’ve been to Nueva Ecija. They’re earning more than triple ‘yung new hybrid natin na bigas. Then you allow the importation? Kawawa naman ‘yung mga… Anak ng… Kaya siya (Valdez) ang nag-approve,” he said.
“Ang protocol diyan, if it is appealed to the Cabinet because always to the President ‘yan eh. It’s appealable to the Office of the President. Paalamin mo ako. At saka huwag kang mag-pirma. Ang magpirma niyan dapat si Jason Aquino. Siya ‘yung administrador eh,” he added.
When he heard of Valdez’s move not only to unseat Aquino but also to railroad the rice imports, Duterte had no choice but to fire Valdez.
“If there’s a change of decision, you can overrule Aquino, fine, but you give it back to him with the orders to approve the importation. Kaya siya nag-pirma… I fired her yesterday, pabalik ako ng Nueva Ecija, it’s harvest time tapos mag-import ka, patay ang Pilipino. Iyon ‘yung kaululan talaga ng Pilipino. Putang ina niya, totoo lang,” said Duterte.