Army chief tapped to head grains agency

Manila Times - - Front Page - RALPH ED­WIN U. VIL­LANUEVA

PRES­I­DENT Ro­drigo Duterte has of­fered the po­si­tion of Na­tional Food Au­thor­ity (NFA) ad­min­is­tra­tor to the re­tir­ing com­mand­ing gen­eral of the Philip­pine Army.

Duterte an­nounced in a news brief­ing in Tugue­garao City, Ca­gayan on Sun­day that he had of­fered the post to Lt. Gen. Rolando Bautista.

“Rolly ( Bautista), is a good guy. In the mean­time, while I

can­not place you in the cen­tral bank, you may work in the NFA, to ra­tio­nal­ize the id­i­otic... so you can plan, make it struc­tural,” Duterte said.

“There’s the prob­lem, be­cause there’s a dearth of a sub­stan­tial knowl­edge of where the rice is, that’s why I need some­body I can trust and who I can tell to fix that,” Duterte added. “We have to help the coun­try to ra­tio­nal­ize ev­ery­thing.”

Bautista is set to step down as army chief on Oc­to­ber 15, when he hits the manda­tory re­tire­ment age of 56.

Duterte’s pro­nounce­ment came just days af­ter he an­nounced that Ja­son Aquino wanted to va­cate his po­si­tion as NFA ad­min­is­tra­tor.

In last week’s tete-a-tete with Pres­i­den­tial Chief Le­gal Coun­sel Sal­vador Panelo in Mala­cañang, Duterte said Aquino, a re­tired

from his post be­cause he was “tired.”

“He can­not cope with the play there in­side, which is al­ways or­di­nary, hap­pen­ing in the gov­ern­ment be­cause we can­not be in agree­ment all the time,” Duterte said.

Aquino is on leave un­til Oc­to­ber 12, NFA spokesman Rex Estop­erez said.

Sen. Fran­cis Pangili­nan ear­lier said that it was not enough for Aquino to re­sign from his post; charges should be filed against him.

Aquino’s res­ig­na­tion came amid a rice sup­ply prob­lem in the coun­try. Due to a de­lay in rice ship­ments, the NFA’s in­ven­tory wore thin, re­sult­ing in a spike in prices.

Com­plaints of wee­vil- in­fested rice and rice hoard­ing also hounded the NFA and the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture.

Duterte ear­lier said that he would not sack Aquino and Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Em­manuel Piñol amid the rice cri­sis. In­stead, laws should be strength­ened, the Pres­i­dent said.

“Maybe the laws are weak or un­en­force­able. All we have to do is to im­prove on those laws, not

told the me­dia be­fore go­ing to Is­rael and Jor­dan two weeks ago.

“I do not see any se­ri­ous of­fense there. We have not re­ally lost any­thing ex­cept that there is an aber­ra­tion in the mar­ket,” Duterte added.

Army chief Rolando Baustista

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