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Planned rice importation needs Duterte approval —Palace

The government’s plan to import 300,000 metric tons of rice needed authorization from President Rodrigo Duterte, Malacañang said Thursday.

Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Agriculture Secretary William Dar have already submitted a request to the Office of the President for the transaction to push through.

“Nagkaroon po ng documented bid processes ahead of time para po masiguro na makukumpleto natin ang pag-aangkat ng bigas by July 15 pero walang Notice of Award na napa-issue po ang PITC [Philippine International Trading Corporation] without authorization from the President,” Roque said in a televised briefing.

The importation will reportedly cost P7.45 billion.

Under the implementing rules and regulations of the Rice Tariffication Law, the President, in the event of a rice supply shortage, may direct the Secretary of Trade and Industry and the PITC to purchase the needed rice supplies from domestic and foreign sources to enhance market competition and stabilize rice prices.

Effective March 2019, the Philippines allowed the unlimited importation of rice —through the private sector — as long as traders secure a phytosanitary permit from the Bureau of Plant Industry and pay the 35% tariff for shipments from neighbors in Southeast Asia. —LDF, GMA News