By Julio P. Yap, Jr.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has been instructed by President Duterte to purchase all the palay output during this harvest season – even if the action would lead to losses for the government.
The order was actually addressed to the National Food Authority (NFA), an agency under the DA.
The order apparently came after the prices of palay dropped to as low as P7 per kilo or nearly 60 percent off their production costs, as the Rice Tariffication Law opened the floodgates to cheap imports.
Duterte, however, said farmers should not demand for an “unreasonable price” because he believes that DA Secretary William Dar would not agree to that arrangement.
“But you cannot demand a price. Arrive at a compromise of how much you are willing to lose a little bit. Huwag naman yang paano. Medyo tapatan lang basta hindi malugi na ano yung pagod nila but they are compensated,” Duterte said.
“The solution should be or will be for the Secretary of Agriculture to buy all. Magkano ba presyo nila? Bilhin natin. Lugi? Lugi talaga. Are we wasting money? No, we are not wasting an industry, we are helping an industry,” Duterte said.
Duterte also defended the shift from quotas to tariffs because it was meant to lead to cheaper rice prices.
“It is a mode that is intended to serve the greater interest the majority of the people. So ang solusyon diyan, bilhin natin. Bakit tayo nagkokolekta ng taxes? Para malugi. Para makatulong. Okay?” he said.
“In a democracy, officials are elected and their duty is to do for the greatest good for the greatest number. You have seen people going wild, others hungry because there is no rice,” he said.