THE National Food Authority (NFA) will be returned to the Department of Agriculture (DA), Malacanang said on Tuesday.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque, Jr. said in a statement that the decision was made during the NFA council meeting on Monday night. He also dispelled reports that the council would be abolished.
Aside from the NFA, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and the Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority (FPA) will also be part of the agriculture department, Roque said.
The Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), a member of the council, also requested to be taken out of the board so that it could focus on its other projects. Its request was approved.
Roque said the NFA was authorized to import 250,000 metric tons of rice through the government-to-government (G2G) mode to bolster the rice stock of the country.
The G2G is the preferred method of importation by NFA administrator Jason Aquino.
The imported rice is set to arrive soon, Roque said.
Subsequent importations will be government-to-private, which was preferred by Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr., and would be implemented and supervised by the Executive Council Committee headed by the Office of the President.
In early April, reports surfaced that the NFA stocks in Metro Manila were “wiped out.”
Evasco, however, slammed the NFA management for “creating an artificial rice shortage.”
“The way things are happening now, [NFA management] created the artificial shortage and pinned the issue down on the council; that we are responsible in creating such situation of shortage, when in fact, we have checked that based on the report of the Department of Agriculture, there is so much rice,” Evasco said in a press briefing on April 4.
Evasco also dangled the possibility of abolishing the NFA Council.
Evasco said the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) worth 501,000 metric tons of rice for this year arrived in March, which is apart from the first quarter harvest and the projected 250,000 metric tons to be imported before June.
At least 300,000 metric tons of MAV is set to arrive in August, Evasco added.
In a statement on April 6, Roque said that President Rodrigo Duterte was eyeing to place the NFA under the Office of the President.
“The President is considering the approval of rice importation to be centralized under the office of the [Department of Agriculture] undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, subject to the review of the Office of the Executive Secretary,” Roque said. RALPH EDWIN U. VILLANUEVA