NFA: Let DA intervene in local rice market

By Wilnard Bacelonia

May 17, 2024, 8:00 pm

<p>National Food Authority OIC Administrator Larry Lacson <em>(Screengrab) </em></p>

National Food Authority OIC Administrator Larry Lacson (Screengrab) 

MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) can assume the power to intervene in the local rice market if lawmakers have doubts about the National Food Authority (NFA), its OIC Administrator Larry Lacson said Friday.

This, after senators called on DA Secretary Francisco Tiu Larel Jr. to assume the task during a public hearing of the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization on Tuesday.

"Naiiintindihan nating mabuti 'yan kasi hindi naman namin pwedeng ipagkaila na may experiences in the past na mayroong mga nanamantala or nagkaroon ng kaunting kalokohan. So, kaya hindi natin sila masisisi (We understand that because we cannot deny that there were experiences in the past when people took advantage or were engaged in some mischief. So, we can't blame them)," Lacson said during the Bagong Pilipinas public forum.

Giving the DA the authority will somehow give the government the ability to intervene in the local market in case there are unusual spikes in rice prices, he added.

"Sa ngayon kasi, tingin natin at 'yun ang nangyayari, wala tayong magawa. Parang nakatali ang kamay ng gobyerno 'pag may mga kundisyon na ganito, which is not really good for the whole country kasi prone 'yun sa pananamantala (Because right now, we think that's what's happening and we can't do anything. The government's hands are tied when there are conditions like this, which is not really good for the whole country because it is prone to exploitation)," Lacson said.

The doubts from senators stemmed from the alleged anomalous sale of NFA rice to select traders at a low price, and without public bidding or authorization from the NFA Council.

Lacson said he is currently pushing for reforms within NFA and assured that he will do his best to eradicate corruption in the agency. (PNA)