IATF pushes for importation of 300,000 MT of rice to ensure supply amid COVID-19 crisis

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is recommending to President Rodrigo Duterte the importation of 300,000 metric tons of rice amid the ongoing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

“Nirerekomenda ng IATF sa Office of the President ang proposal ng DA [Department of Agriculture] na mag-import ng 300,000 metric tons ng bigas para matiyak na hindi po tayo maubusan ng supply,” IATF Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Nograles said the importation will be done through government-to-government agreement, to be led by the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC).

The Philippine government will also work with its trading partners in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region to encourage them not to impose trade-restrictive measures. This is to ensure that existing supply contracts will be prioritized.

In line with this, the IATF stressed that the movement of cargo and food supplies will remain unhampered, as well as work in food and agriculture sectors will continue during the enhanced community quarantine period.

Inuulit po ng IATF na dapat hayaan ang tuloy-tuloy na daloy ng mga kargamento at pagpasok ng mga manggagawa sa sektor ng agrikultura at food production,” Nograles said.

The IATF earlier issued guidelines that allow all farming and fishing activities to continue, provided that they operate on skeleton force, and observe social distancing measures. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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