THE President’s spokesman Monday said that no order has been officially issued to suspend rice imports, contrary to reports.
Salvador S. Panelo said in a message to reporters Monday that no directive has been issued by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, following a report by GMA News on Sunday claiming an exclusive with the President.
“As of this time there is no order to stop rice importation given to Secretary (William D.) Dar of the Department of Agriculture,” Mr. Panelo said.
GMA online cited the source of the report as its own 24-Oras Weekend program on Sunday, which claimed to have spoken exclusively with the President on Friday.
The GMA report said the suspension is intended to help farmers currently experiencing difficulty due to the low prices of palay, or unmilled rice, due to competition from imported rice.
The Rice Tariffication Law took effect in March, liberalizing rice imports and introducing more competition for domestic farmers, pressuring the prices they can command for palay, the form in which they sell their crop to traders.
In a July speech, Mr. Duterte expressed his interest in suspending rice imports to protect farmers, particularly during the harvest when supply is typically plentiful with many farmers trying to sell their crop. — Gillian M. Cortez