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Duterte offers NFA post to Army chief Bautista

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte wants Army chief Lieutenant General Rolando Bautista to replace National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Jason Aquino.

Duterte offered the post to Bautista during the Cabinet meeting on the effects of Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) held at the Cagayan Provincial Capitol in Tuguegarao City on Sunday, September 16.

"Mabait 'yan si Rolly. In the meantime na 'di kita malagay sa Central Bank, puwede ka muna sa NFA siguro, to rationalize the idiotic [structure]… para maplano, make it structural," said Duterte. (Rolly is a good guy. While I still can't place you at the Central Bank, perhaps I can put you in the NFA in the meantime to rationalize the idiotic structure of the agency, to plan and make it structural.)

Bautista's reply, however, was inaudible in the live video by state-run RTVM.

Sought for clarification, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press conference later on Sunday: "Klaro po ang sinabi niya, nais niyang mag-appoint ng mga galing sa militar dahil nais niyang sumunod sa kanyang utos. Naniniwala siyang kailangan ng isang absolutely honest at saka tao na susunod sa utos, sa kanyang mga orders, sa NFA, dahil importante na maging sapat-sapat ang ating supply nang mawala ang agam-agam ng tao, na nagreresulta sa mataas na presyo."

(What he said is clear. He wants to appoint someone from the military because he wants someone who will follow his orders. He believes that we need an absolutely honest person who will follow orders, his orders, in NFA, because it's important to have enough supply of rice to quell the fears of people, which result in higher prices.)

On September 11, Duterte announced that he is looking to replace Aquino in the NFA as the country continues to face a rice crisis. Several officials – both Duterte's allies and those in the opposition – have called for either the replacement or resignation of Aquino.

Bautista is set to retire from the military in October. Prior to heading the 90-000 strong Philippine Army, he was the overall ground commander in Marawi City.

Just like Bautista, Aquino served in the military before heading the NFA. Aquino was a retired army major when Duterte appointed him as NFA administrator on December 29, 2016. – Rappler.com 

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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