Duterte to look for new NFA chief after Jason Aquino asked to be relieved

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 11) — President Rodrigo Duterte will look for a new head of the National Food Authority (NFA) after incumbent Jason Aquino asked to be relieved from the post.

"He (Aquino) said he's tired and cannot cope up with the laro dyan sa (dynamics there) inside, which is always ordinary happening in the government because we cannot be in agreement all the time. I will scout for a new one," Duterte said in a televised interview with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Sal Panelo on Tuesday.

The President also said he would recommend to lawmakers the abolition of the NFA Council.

The council, he said, "has no purpose" and "only hinders the operation" of the agency.

Duterte said he "might just set up a barter trade again" as he eyes the disputed island of Sabah as a possible source of rice.

"The only way is to import more, kung magkulang I will open up Sabah. Mura ang bigas galing Sabah. Kung hayaan mo lang authorities dyan, kung mga taga Basilan, Zamboanga lang bibili ng bigas, sobra sobra pa ang bigas kasi mura," he said.

[Translation: Rice is cheap in Sabah. If we just allow authorities there, if only the residents from Basilan, Zamboanga will buy rice, the supply is too much because it's cheap.]

"Kung magbili sila ng bigas doon, walang problema sa gutom, talagang mura ang bigas doon, but we don't have anything there, i-barter nila (If they buy rice there, there will be no problem because rice is really cheap there). We just have to control the rice diyan sa mga Moro baka sabihin nila ginugutom sila (Moro may say we're depriving them0, and the Christians who cannot afford," he added.

Duterte insisted that there is no rice shortage in the country, saying the problem is only "caused by man-made manipulation."

"May bigas eh, import tayo nag-import (There's enough rice, we keep on importing). Kung tignan 'yan (If we will look at it), it's in the warehouses. Yung iba kino-control (Some control them). [It's a] bad practice of manipulation to make money at the expense of our countrymen," he said.