Gov. Zubiri nixes order preventing shipment of rice from Bukidnon

Women farmers gather leftover rice straws from a ricefield in Barangay Sinoda, Kitaotao, Bukidnon. MindaNews file photo

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 27 March) — Bukidnon Gov. Jose Maria Zubiri Jr. rescinded a controversial order he made on Friday stopping all rice shipments from leaving the province.

In Executive Order No. 18-A which he signed Friday afternoon, Zubiri said he got assurances that suppliers in Bukidnon could meet the local demand for rice.

“I do hereby order the lifting of the implementation of Executive Order no. 18 and renders the same ineffective,” he said in the new order just hours after he banned all rice shipments from going out of Bukidnon.

EO No. 18 prohibited all rice producers, traders and suppliers to engage in selling, delivery and release of rice grains outside of  Bukidnon.

Bukidnon is a major rice producer in Northern Mindanao, contributing 69,546 metric tons in palay or 51 percent of the palay production in Region 10 in 2017.

Zubiri listed several reasons why he issued EO No. 18.

He said the provincial government tried to purchase 100,000 bags of rice to feed indigent families affected by measures aimed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease or Covid-19.

The governor said they had already purchased 40,000 bags and had offered to buy 60,000 more at P1,850 per bag.

He said there were no takers from the Bukidnon traders and producers.

“Several rice suppliers and traders were selling their merchandise outside the province of Bukidnon, depleting the supply of the province,” he said.

The regional Inter-Agency Task Force, however, did not take lightly Zubiri’s EOs regarding the rice shipments.

National Economic Development Authority 10 Director Mylah Faye Aurora Cariño said they and the Department of Interior and Local Government are holding an emergency meeting to discuss Zubiri’s actions.

“This is the last thing that we wanted during the crisis. That each local government official will decide according to their emotions,” Cariño said.

She assured the residents of Northern Mindanao that the region’s stockpile of basic commodities could last up to 106 days.

She said the IATF has already reported Zubiri’s actions to the National IATF in Malacañang.

DILG 10 Director Arnel Agabe cited the directive from DILG Secretary Eduardo Año that there should be an unhampered movement of food supplies during the crisis.

Agabe said this is the second time Zubiri’s order caught their attention.

A week ago, Agabe said Zubiri asked the two sugar manufacturers in Bukidnon, the Bukidnon Sugar Milling Corporation and Crystal Milling Corporation, to stop their production to allow their workers to prepare for the emergency. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)