National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Jason Laureano Y. Aquino today clarified that his decision not to extend the deadline of February 28, 2017 for the arrival of rice imports under the minimum access volume (MAV) scheme is primarily intended to protect the local farmers since March is the start of harvest for the summer crop and the local farmers’ produce should be given priority over private importation.

The deadline is clearly stated in the MAV importation guidelines earlier approved by the NFA Council. However, in a supposed meeting held February 27, where the NFA administrator was not in attendance, a majority of the NFA Council approved to extend the MAV arrivals until March 31.

Presidential Decree No. 4 as amended and the NFA Code of Governance bestows the power not to extend the MAV import arrivals in the NFA Administrator.

“We have no intention at all to defy the Council. Our decision not to extend the MAV came in even before the Council issued a Resolution extending it. We had communicated this concern with the Office of the Cabinet Secretary as early as February 24, 2017 and we are awaiting their reply,” Aquino said.

The NFA Council, in its resolution, authorized the Cabinet Secretary to sign import permits. “With such authority, the Cabinet Secretary may therefore approve applications  for  import  permit  beyond  the  supposed deadline,” Aquino explained.

Given the contrasting decisions between the NFA Administrator and Council, Aquino hopes that he would not be compelled to do something that he deems unjust to local farmers.

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