DTI, DA wash hands after controversial 300,000 MT rice importation plan
No one from the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) want to admit whose idea it was to cancel the controversial government-to-government (G2G) importation of 300,000 metric tons.
They also didn’t want to admit that it was a bad idea to pursue in the first place.
In a statement, the DA said it welcomes the decision of the Philippine International Trading Center (PITC), an attached agency to the DTI, to no longer pursue the importation plan.
But in its own statement, PITC said it only cancelled the importation, which already got far as the actual bidding, because the DA recommended it to be scrapped.
“The PITC said they just followed DA’s directive. Now the DA is thanking PITC for its decision. They are now pointing at each other,” said Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) National Manager Raul Montemayor.
To recall, Montemayor was also the first person to point out that the planned G2G importation has no legal basis since the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), which allowed the private sector to import rice at any volume, only lets the government to import rice when there is an actual pronouncement of a rice shortage.
Far from it, the DA has been reassuring the public that the country will have enough rice throughout the year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is all DA’s fault. PITC was just dragged into it. DA should admit this is all their fault and move on. It should stop making excuses and washing its hands,” Montemayor said.
DA’s proposal to cancel the G2G importation came after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) refused to release funds for the importation amounting to P7.45 billion.
The DA won’t publicly acknowledge this, but DBM was particularly waiting for President Rodrigo Duterte’s formal approval as well as the actual pronouncement of a rice shortage, citing provisions in the RTL.