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Nograles: IATF recommending importation of 300,000 metric tons of rice amid ECQ

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Tuesday said the Inter-Agency Task Force has recommended to the Office of the President the importation of a total of 300,000 metric tons of rice for contingency purposes during this enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

Nograles, the spokesman of the task force, said the proposal of the Department of Agriculture (DA) would be done by the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) through government-to-government arrangements.

"Nirerekomenda ng IATF sa Office of the President ang proposal ng DA na mag-import ng 300,000 metric tons ng bigas para matiyak na hindi po tayo maubusan ng supply," Nograles said at a press briefing.

The DA on Saturday said the Philippines has rice stocks sufficient for the requirements of the entire country in time for the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“Sapat po ang ating supply ng bigas para sa Metro Manila at sa buong bansa. Nitong buwan ng Marso, mayroon po tayong rice inventory good for 75 days,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said then in a statement.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez also gave the assurance last Monday that there is enough food to last until the end of the enhanced community quarantine.

Unhampered movement

Nograles also reiterated the national policy on the unhampered movement of cargoes and workers from permitted establishments, especially those delivering agriculture and food products.

"Inuulit po ng IATF na dapat hayaan ang tuloy-tuloy na daloy ng mga kargamento at pagpasok ng mga manggagawa sa sektor ng agrikultura at food production," Nograles said.

In his address to Filipinos late Monday night, President Rodrigo Duterte said the priorities of the government in fighting the COVID-19 threat were providing emergency assistance to affected sectors, securing facilities or resources for the health sector, and performing fiscal and monetary actions for the economy.

Duterte placed the entire Luzon under enhanced community quarantine in order to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Some areas in Visayas and Mindanao also implemented strict quarantine.

Over 1,500 individuals were infected with COVID-19, according to the Department of Health. — RSJ/KG, GMA News