Duterte en­dorses Tawi-Tawi barter trad­ing for rice

Manila Times - - Regions - JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL

COTA­BATO CITY: Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte sup­ports the re-es­tab­lish­ment of the Barter Trad­ing Cen­ter in Tawi-Tawi that brings in rice from Sabah to en­sure the steady sup­ply of the sta­ple in the Zam­ba­sulta (Zam­boanga, Basi­lan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi) area, the agri­cul­ture sec­re­tary said on Sun­day.

Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Em­manuel Piñol ear­lier pro­posed a Rice Trad­ing Cen­ter in Tawi-Tawi to stop rice smug­gling and en­sure a steady sup­ply in the area that re­cently reeled from a rice short­age.

can be al­lowed “pro­vided it fol­lows le­gal pro­cesses.”

He added that Pres­i­dent di­rected Fi­nance Sec­re­tary Car­los Dominguez 3rd to im­me­di­ately im­ple­ment the barter trade sys­tem in the south­ern is­lands where peo­ple have tra­di­tion­ally been en­gaged in trad­ing with their rel­a­tives in Sabah.

Dur­ing a one-on-one in­ter­view aired live on Philip­pine tele­vi­sion, the Pres­i­dent said that he ini­tially failed to grasp the con­text of the is­sue about “le­gal­iz­ing rice smug­gling.”

“What Piñol ac­tu­ally meant was to bring in rice legally,” Pres­i­dent Duterte was quoted as say­ing.

In a news con­fer­ence be­fore he left for Is­rael and Jor­dan, Pres­i­dent Duterte was asked by a PTV re­porter for his re­ac­tion to Piñol’s al­leged pro­posal to “le­gal­ize rice smug­gling.” He re­sponded by say­ing that smug­gling in any form would ruin the econ­omy.

He ex­plained that his pro­posal was an off­shoot of his trip to Zam­boanga City, Tawi-Tawi and Sulu at the height of the rice cri­sis fol­low­ing the clo­sure by the Malaysian gov­ern­ment of its ports to rice smug­glers.

The rice shipped in from Sabah ac­tu­ally comes from ei­ther Thai­land and Viet­nam. Th­ese are brought in by kumpit, the tra­di­tional swift wooden boats of the is­lands that use the ports of Labuan and San­dakan as tran­ship­ment points.

The Zam­ba­sulta area has re­lied on smug­gled rice for so many years, pro­duc­ing only 10 per­cent of its to­tal rice re­quire­ments of 220,000 met­ric tons ev­ery year.

Piñol said he pro­posed that the Rice Trad­ing Cen­ter be put un­der the su­per­vi­sion of the Na­tional Food Au­thor­ity where rice sup­plies would be brought in legally, go­ing through quar­an­tine in­spec­tions, san­i­tary and pythosan­i­tary re­quire­ments and pay­ment of tar­iffs.

“I pro­posed that the vol­ume of rice to be brought in should not ex­ceed the to­tal con­sump­tion re­quire­ments of the area which is about 200,000 met­ric tons ev­ery year, he said.The strat­egy, which the lo­cal lead­ers of Zam­boanga City, Basi­lan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi sup­port, is ex­pected to curb rice smug­gling and earn for the gov­ern­ment an es­ti­mated P1 bil­lion in tar­iffs ev­ery year.

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