Duterte Wants Retiring Army Chief to Head Philippine Food Agency

(Bloomberg) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he plans to name Army chief Lieutenant General Rolando Bautista as head of the National Food Authority, the agency tasked with importing rice.

A former commander of the president’s security group, Bautista is retiring from military service in October. Duterte is scouting for a new head of the agency after a rice shortage pushed prices to a record and spurred inflation to a nine-year high.

Duterte Wants Retiring Army Chief to Head Philippine Food Agency

“In the meantime, while I cannot put you yet in the central bank, maybe you can be with NFA to rationalize, to come up with a plan and make it structural,” Duterte said in a TV command conference in Cagayan, where Typhoon Mangkhut first made landfall.

Read: Weevils, Storms Plague Philippine Rice, Keeping Costs at Record

Rice from the National Food Authority, sold at a much cheaper price, must be made available to ensure prices are stable, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said, adding that supermarkets have agreed to sell grains from the government’s food agency. A tariff system on rice imports, in place of volume restrictions, should be in place by October to help lower prices, Duterte said.

Mangkhut may damage as much as 11 billion pesos ($203 million) of rice and corn in the Philippines, with the storm coming just before the start of harvest, according to the latest estimate from Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol, which came a day before the typhoon hit.

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