Evasco to NFA: Where did millions of sacks of subsidized rice go?

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 04 2018 08:53 AM | Updated as of Apr 04 2018 12:58 PM

FILE PHOTO: A rice vendor tends to his stall at the Quinta Market in Quiapo area in Manila. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - State auditors will look into why the National Food Authority (NFA) distributed a lot of its stock of government-subsidized rice during the harvest season, Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. said Wednesday, as the agency grappled with a dwindling grain supply.

The agency management released to retailers an average of 1 million sacks of rice per month during the harvest season from October to December, but distributed less during the lean months of June and July, said Evasco, who heads the NFA Council, the policy-making body of the grains agency. 

"Ito ang tanong namin sa council: Saan napunta ang average of 1 million bags na lumalabas?" he told DZMM. 

The NFA Council, he said, has approved a resolution for the Commission on Audit to check which areas got the NFA shipments during the harvest months. 

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Evasco's statement came after the Grain Retailers Confederation of the Philippines on Tuesday revealed there is no more supply of NFA rice in Metro Manila, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon regions. 

Assistant Secretary Jonas Soriano from Evasco's office, however, belied reports that the NFA rice reserve has been depleted. 

"I don't think zero 'yan. 'Pag zero 'yan, there will be areas na kawawa," he said. 

NFA rice only accounts for some 4 percent of the total rice supply of the country, added Evasco. 

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the NFA management to import 250,000 metric tons of rice. It is expected to arrive in May.