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President Duterte fires Usec over rice import controversy

Where there's smoke, there's fire

By Manny Piñol

President Rody Duterte yesterday announced during the Rice Harvest Festival in Talavera, Nueva Ecija that he has ordered the dismissal of an Undersecretary in the Office of the President because of controversies surrounding the latest importation of rice from Vietnam.
Arriving in Talavera by helicopter from Manila, the President told me of his decision to fire Undersecretary Halmen Valdez following the latter's decision to recommend to the National Food Authority (NFA) Council the extension of the import permits granted to private rice traders from March to the end of June of this year.

NFA Administrator Jason Aquino opposed this recommendation and instead proposed that succeeding importations to ensure buffer stocks of rice in the country should be made on a government-to-government basis.

On the recommendation of Valdez, the NFA Council overruled Aquino and proceeded to allow private traders to bring in more imported rice under the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) trade arrangements for rice.

This led to the circulation in the rice industry of rumours of monetary considerations as the reason behind the conflicting positions taken by Aquino and Valdez.

The controversy did not sit well with the President who also told me that the rumours of the "P50 per bag" consideration also reached him.

“I will continue to fire people, the first whiff, maamoy ko lang, maski na hindi totoo, you’re out. Hindi naman kasi mag-generate ng loose talks iyan eh,” he said.

Pres. Duterte said he fired Valdez over the phone while after his chopper landed in Nueva Ecija.

“Papunta ako dito. Pa-landing ako dito, sabi ko, ‘Tawagan mo ang Malacañang. She’s fired. So pangalawa siya,’” he said.
The chief executive said he would continue to fire people even if they are facing mere allegations.

Valdez, a former staff of the Office of the President for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (OPAFSAM) under the previous administration, is a hold-over who was promoted to the rank of Undersecretary by President Duterte.

She also earlier figured in a controversy when upon her recommendation the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Council issued a suspension order against PCA Administrator Avelino Andal over issues of corruption.

#Changeishere! #PresRodyCares! #DuterteDelivers!
(Photos by Mayette Tudlas, DAF-OSEC)

President Duterte fires Usec over rice import controversy President Duterte fires Usec over rice import controversy Reviewed by AsianPolicy.Press on 11:48:00 PM Rating: 5

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