By Ariel Avendaño
TALAVERA, Nueva Ecija – Presidential spokesman Harry Roque today assured that farmers who suffered losses due to mass flooding will be provided support by the Department of Agriculture and other government agencies.
The mass flooding destroyed hundreds of hectares of farmlands triggered by a series of tropical depressions which inundated many Luzon provinces last week.
Roque, who was the guest speaker on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Butil Farmers Party-list, told mediamen here that “asahan n’yo po na lahat ng mga binhi ay ibibigay ng Department of Agriculture.”
In the middle of his speech, Roque also lambasted a trader who was accused to be behind the “control” of NFA rice in the country.
The huge volume of rice were delivered to the influential trader in Bulacan instead to the local farmers after the imported rice from Thailand and Vietnam landed in warehouses, the spokesman said.
Roque also disclosed that the trader, whom he refused to identify, said got a stern warning from President Duterte through a telephone call during a cabinet meeting that” kilala po lahat ni Presidente ang lahat ng mga walanghiyang mga hoarders at mga mangangalakal ng bigas.”
“Bago po siya siya nagpatawag ng meeting at minura ang taong ‘yon, nagkaroon po siya ng briefing kay Secretary Dominguez, Secretary Fernia at Secretary Diokno kung ano ang mechanics ng pagnenegosyo ng bigas,” Roque also said, adding that “ang sabi ng Presidente, ubusin nyo lahat ng P12 bilyon na yan para bumili ng mas mataas na presyo sa ating mga magsasaka hindi sa mga magsasaka mula sa ibang bansa.”
Asked by this correspondent to have at least a clue even an initial letter of the big-time trader, Roque begged not give any idea saying that “wag na po anyway sumunod na yong tao sa 72 hours ultimatum na binigay ni Presidente.”
The secretary also assured the farmers that “you have an assurance from our President that the P12 billion allocated for the importation of rice will be derived from the local farmers’ production in the coming harvest season and no longer from the Thai nor Vietnamese farmers,” Roque stressed in Filipino to the applause of the farmers groups from various provinces in Central Luzon (Region 3).