Zubiri blinks on rice shipment ban
MALAYBALAY CITY (28 March 2020)) Bukidnon Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. ordered Friday a ban on rice shipments outside the province to ensure meeting local needs - only to lift it hours later.
Zubiri issued Executive Order No. 18 prohibiting all rice producers, traders and suppliers from engaging in selling, delivery and release of rice grains outside of Bukidnon.
But the governor changed his mind and issued Executive Order No. 18-A lifting the ban.
“I … do hereby order the lifting of the implementation of Executive Order no. 18 and renders the same ineffective,” he said in the follow up order.
The governor said he got assurances that suppliers in Bukidnon could meet the local demand for rice.
He cited that initially there were no takers from Bukidnon rice traders and producers on the plan of the provincial government to buy 100,000 bags of rice to be distributed for free to indigent families affected by COVID-19 measures. The provincial government intends to distribute a sack of rice, a box of sardines and a box of beef loaf to each of 100,000 households based on a social welfare list.
The governor, reading the order in a webcast around 9:30a.m. said they have already purchased 40,000 bags and had offered to buy 60,000 more at P1,850 per bag.
He appealed to producers to take the offer and hit ‘big traders’ who allegedly get much of the supply. Zubiri told reporters he learned Thursday night that truckloads of rice were transported outside of the province.
“Unahon anay nato ang bugas para sa katawhan sa Bukidnon, igo pag masuupply na natong tanan kinahanglanon sa Bukidnon, mao na kon mag excess ibaligya didto sa Cagayan de Oro o sa Davao o asa man,” (Let’s ensure first supply is enough for the needs of Bukidnon. If there is excess, then we sell to Cagayan de Oro, Davao and elsewhere) he said.
The governor noted that they have already bought rice supply from the National Food Authority (NFA).
MindaNews reported on March 27 that the regional Inter-Agency Task Force, however, reported Zubiri’s actions to the National IATF in Malacañang.
“This is the last thing that we wanted during the crisis. That each local government official will decide according to their emotions,” the news site quoted National Economic Development Authority 10 Director Mylah Faye Aurora Cariño as saying.
Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno said he can’t blame Gov. Zubiri for his decision. He said Zubiri only wanted to ensure enough rice supply for his province. He noted that the city is not fully dependent of its rice supply from Bukidnon.
Bukidnon is a major rice producer in Northern Mindanao, contributing 51 percent of the palay production in Region 10 in 2017. (BukidnonNews.Net with a report from Sean Sulugan)
Photo: Workers carry sacks of rice in a National Food Authority warehouse/Courtesy of LGU Bukidnon Public Affairs, Information and Assistance (PAIA)