Piñol: NFA Council may be reorganized

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 13) The policy-making National Food Authority (NFA) Council is likely to face reorganization in the face of cheap rice shortage, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said Friday.

"Actually in the proposed reorganization of the NFA Council, mukhang magkakaroon ng pagbabago [it looks like there will be changes]," Piñol told CNN Philippines' The Source.

The Cabinet official was responding to a question on strained relations between NFA Council Chair and concurrent Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco and NFA Administrator Jason Aquino.

The two butt heads after Evasco blamed the NFA of causing panic over low cheap rice supply.

Evasco earlier said 250,000 metric tons of NFA rice will arrive in June "so there is nothing to worry (about)."

President Rodrigo Duterte has since ordered Aquino to push through with the importation absent an NFA Council decision.

Piñol said he is not privy to the relations of Aquino and Evasco, but he thinks a possible council reorganization will be discussed during an upcoming meeting on Monday.

The April 16 meeting will also tackle how the Department of Agriculture and NFA can better coordinate.

In an interview with CNN Philippines' News Night, NFA Region 3 Director and spokesperson Rex Estoperez confirmed that the agency is now awating President Duterte's official statement on the fate of the NFA Council. He added that a decision must be made immediately amid the cheap rice supply shortage.

"The legal luminaries of Malacañang will evaluate and analyze what will be the result of what the President would say because the National Food Authority Council was created during  the creation of National Food Authority under Presidential Decree No. 4," Estoperez said.


The NFA Council has representatives from the farmers' sector, government banks, the departments of Finance and Trade, and other government offices.

President Rodrigo Duterte reportedly floated the idea of abolishing the body.

Piñol said that while abolishing the NFA Council is a "presidential decision," he was personally against it.

He lamented the NFA was mostly concerned with the importation and procurement of rice when it could play a bigger role.

"If you ask me whether it is right to abolish NFA, I say it's wrong," said Pinol. "The NFA should play the role of the export agency of the Filipino farmers and fisherfolk. It should not only be involved with rice."

Piñol also believes the NFA should be under his department.

Related: Palace: Duterte wants NFA placed under Office of the President

Presidential Decree 1485 issued in 1978 created the NFA Council.