MANILA -- Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said Wednesday he would suggest during the upcoming Cabinet meeting that smuggled rice be distributed to the poor, instead of giving it to the National Food Authority (NFA).

“That's probably something that we will be discussing to the next Cabinet meeting in March,” Roque said in an interview with radio dzMM.

The next Cabinet meeting is set on Monday, March 5.

Roque said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) could handle the rice distribution through its Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

Recently, Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, recommended that smuggled rice be channeled to the NFA, to be sold at a low price.

“You know that policy is too long and it is not like (smuggled) cars that are being destroyed for a lesson,” Roque said. “This is really, because it is food, it may be necessary for those who are hungry, for our people."

Roque said his suggestion aims to prevent the possibility of smuggled rice being sold again to smugglers.

Last January, the Philippine Coast Guard reportedly seized 60,000 undocumented sacks of rice worth PHP120 million in the waters off Zamboanga Sibugay. (PNA)