No rice shortage: Piñol

Piñol, however, admitted that there is a hike in rice prices due to “speculation” in light of the delayed arrival of imported rice, as well as the temporary absence of National Food Authority (NFA) rice in the market.

“We have no rice shortage but there is admittedly a spike in the price of rice in the market because of speculation dahil nga nawala angNFA rice sa merkado ng mahaba (due to the long absence of NFA rice in the market). Na-delay din yung arrival ng imported rice (The arrival of imported rice is also delayed),” Piñol told reporters in an ambush interview after attending a congressional hearing at the House of Representatives.

Piñol assured that the rice situation, particularly the price of the staple, will stabilize by November as harvest season starts.

The DA chief also clarified reports that he was proposing to legalize rice smuggling.

He was recommending the establishment of a rice trading post, where government can collect customs duty on legally-imported rice with import permit from the NFA.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said the DA chief still continues to enjoy the trust and confidence of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Amid mounting calls for Piñol’s resignation, Duterte said there was no need for him to do so.

“You know, all officials including me are bound by laws on the matter. Rice, whatever it is, there are laws to be followed. Maybe the laws are weak or unenforceable. All we have to do is to improve on those laws, not necessarily fire people,” Duterte said. (PNA)

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