NFA told denials not easing rice price woes

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LUCENA CITY—Simple denials and a “smear campaign” won’t pacify the public’s rage over the continuing increase in prices of rice, shortage in supply and allegations that rice imported by the National Food Authority (NFA) are overpriced, a ranking leader of a militant group said on Wednesday.

“Let us disabuse ourselves from this blanket and default defense that all criticisms directed at government officials are politically motivated smear campaigns. This is plain squid tactic,” Argee Guevarra, a leader of the group Sanlakas, said in a statement.

NFA administrator Orlan Calayag had strongly denied that the Vietnam rice that NFA imported was overpriced.

Last week, NFA Deputy Administrator Ludovico Jarina also dismissed Guevarra’s allegation of P457-million overpricing in its April 2013 rice importation as a “smear campaign hatched by groups opposed to reforms being implemented within the NFA.”

Guevarra is set to face off with Department of Agriculture and NFA officials in a House investigation today.

Guevarra had questioned NFA’s defense that 18,700 metric tons (MT) of the total 205,700 MT importation was “authorized” under the so-called Molso (more or less at supplier’s option) provision of the NFA’s government-to-government contract with Vietnam.

“If this is the case, Molso should just be introduced into the market as Molso Rice: More-Or-Less Still Overpriced,” Guevarra said.

He said he has documents to prove his allegation that the imported Vietnam rice was overpriced and irregular.

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