“Do not panic,” Duterte tells public; asks CIDG to take over probe on “fake rice”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/05 July) – “Do not panic,” Mayor Rodrigo Duterte urged the public on Sunday, as he asked the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to take over the investigation into the reported entry and selling of “fake rice.”

“We are trying to find our best to find out the truth,” the mayor told viewers of his Sunday television program, “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” (From the masses, for the masses), adding he will ask the city police chief to turn over whatever evidence they may have to the CIDG to investigate where the alleged “fake rice” came from, whether from neighboring areas or imported.

If it’s imported, he said, ‘we will go after the guy who made the importation,” but if dumped like smuggled goods, “pangitaay ta ani” (we will have to look around).

The mayor warned that if public interest is harmed, “kung naay mass poisoning, mutuo ka buhion ta pa ka?” (If there is mass poisoning, you think I will let you live?)

The “fake rice,” reportedly from China, looks like genuine rice but when cooked and eaten, allegedly has the consistency of styrofoam.

In his Sunday program, Duterte repeatedly warned rice traders to ensure what they sell is not harmful to the public.

He said initial police investigation showed the alleged “fake rice” was bought in Bansalan but those in Bansalan claimed there has been no rice harvest there and that the rice came from Bislig, Surigao del Sur.

“This is a long story. We would need the police to really thresh out what really happened,” the mayor said.

Duterte said he was informed some consumers had cooked and eaten the “fake rice” for five days. “One uncanny feature is dugay mabahaw, gahi kung mabugnaw (it doesn’t spoil easily, it hardens when cold).

He said there were no reports of diarrhea and signs of food poisoning

He said the National Food Authority (NFA) has asked for a chemical analysis of the properties of the alleged “fake rice” and until the results are in, “I would not want to create panic.”

But Duterte also said that those who ate “fake rice” should not be over confident as plastic, one of the components of “fake rice” may not be processed by the digestive system.

He said there were reports the alleged “fake rice” were sold in other provinces but he declined to name these provinces.

He ordered city police chief Vicente Danao to turn over evidence to the CIDG who will in turn coordinate with regional field offices.

“You may use the police of other places,” Duterte said, adding the CIDG has branches in the provinces.

Duterte acknowledged that for now, “we do not have any conclusive evidence on the matter.”

But he warned rice sellers to “know what you are selling” and to suffer the consequences if there are complaints.

“It is your obligation to ensure that what you sell to the consuming public is safe to digest and alright to eat,” Duterte said, adding, “di ta ka pasayloon kung naay mamatay. Idemanda ta gyud ka” (I will not forgive you if somebody dies. I will sue you),” the mayor vowed.

He said he would sue for economic sabotage. (MindaNews)