Duterte says 'anybody who has money' allowed to import rice

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte maintained on Sunday, April 29, that the Philippines will now ease its rules on rice importation for the sake of securing supplies of the Filipino staple food.

Duterte said he means that "anybody who has the money can import."

"My job is to fill our warehouse, our inventory," he told reporters at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport here.

Duterte, however, will only permit importing rice outside the harvest season. It's an instruction he has relayed to Jason Aquino, administrator of the National Food Authority (NFA).

The President said this condition will clarify the issue that government will jeopardize local farmers' livelihood should it decide to fill the market with a higher volume of imported rice.

Several groups have criticized the plan, as last year Duterte had given orders to the NFA to prioritize buying rice from local farmers. (READ: [OPINION] The alarming depletion of NFA rice under Duterte's watch

This also comes after Duterte, more than a week ago, gave NFA the go-signal for the government-to-government importation of 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice to replenish the country's inventory. – Rappler.com