By Louise Maureen Simeon, March 7 2019; Philippine Star

Image Credit to Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The National Food Authority has expressed disgust over the comment of a ranking official from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) that NFA rice is for dogs.

In a radio interview, NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon had said some people buy the cheap NFA rice for their dogs, saying that there is a “quality difference” and that some people buy NFA rice for other uses.

NFA officer-in-charge administrator Tomas Escarez said such remarks, coming from a ranking government official, is a slap to the more than 10 million poor Filipinos who have relied on the low-priced NFA rice for their daily meals.

He added that the remark is also an insult to the more than 4,000 NFA employees nationwide who have been delivering the staple to marginalized consumers in far-flung areas, isolated island provinces and poor urban areas.

The video of Edillon’s remarks also gathered negative reactions from netizens, including NFA employees, retailers and ordinary citizens.

One netizen said Edillon was being insensitive and unprofessional, emphasizing that such comment should not even come from a public servant.

“We, retailers of NFA rice, do not sell food for dogs. There are about 200 to 500 people lining up every day for the cheap rice, do you call all of them dogs?” an NFA retailer said.

Right now, the NFA has been officially stripped of its powers over the import and export of rice and its functions over the domestic rice industry as the rice liberalization law takes effect.

This includes the licensing and registration of persons and entities engaged in the grains business, collection of regulatory fees, issuance of negotiable warehouse receipts, warehouse inspection, authority to seize hoarded stocks and enforce rules and regulations in the grains business, among others.

However, under the amended implementing rules and regulations of the tariffication law, NFA will still be allowed to release “aged stocks” to prevent spoilage once they reach their 30-day optimal level.

This means that stocks in excess of the 30-day buffer will be released to the market on a “first-in, first-out” system and the rolling buffer stocking system will allow the NFA to roll over its procurement funds and continuously buy local rice.

The NFA will continue to sell rice because of the rolling buffer stocking concept as it will have to clear its warehouses of old stocks to prevent spoilage.