By Genalyn Kabiling
The government will “forever” strive to attain self-sufficiency in rice despite President Duterte’s belief the country cannot reach such goal this year, Malacañang said Thursday.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol could still meet his target of rice sufficiency and “the President would want to be proven false.”
“We will forever aim to be rice sufficient. All administrations have wanted to become rice sufficient but the President stated the truth until now we are not rice sufficient,” Roque said during a Palace press briefing.
“So if it will happen, it will happen. But the reality is, for now, we are not completely self-sufficient,” he added.
President Duterte earlier said the country must continue to import rice since it could not be self-sufficient in rice due to shrinking rice lands. Duterte lamented that many lands have been used to produce cash crops instead of food crops.
Roque said the President believes the country could not attain its goal of rice sufficiency this year. He said Duterte was just being honest about the rice situation in the country.
“We will continue to strive to be self-sufficient in rice although the reality is hindi pa nga nangyayari. I remember even as a child, all Presidents have promised self-sufficiency in rice,” he said.
“At least itong Presidenteng ito, you know, says it as it is. So iyon lang po. It is a statement of fact. Hopefully, we can meet our goals but if we don’t, it’s a reality to accept,” he said.