DA explains list of NFA execs, employees in rice sale issue | Inquirer News

DA explains list of NFA execs, employees in rice sale issue

/ 04:14 PM March 17, 2024


MANILA, Philippines  – The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Sunday said that it did not validate the list of respondents it had submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman concerning the National Food Authority’s (NFA) controversial sale of buffer rice stocks to “avoid suspicion within the agency.”

In a statement on Sunday, Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. explained that the list was provided to the department by the NFA, and that they immediately sent it to the Ombudsman upon its urgent request.


“The list was given to us by NFA and we just forwarded it to the Ombudsman, believing that is current and up-to-date,” Laurel said.


“We had no chance to audit the list because of the urgency of the Ombudsman’s request. Had we verified the list with NFA management, it might have stirred suspicion as to why we are asking too much details; we were already conducting our own investigation at that time,” Laurel added.

One hundred forty one NFA employees and officials were placed under preventive suspension by the Ombudsman during the investigation into the food authority’s questionable sale of rice stocks.

This included former administrator Roderico Buico and his replacement, Piolito Santos, who was appointed two weeks later.

On March 15, Ombudsman Samuel Martires reversed the suspension order for 23 NFA employees based on the investigators’ recommendation.

Lawyers Dino de Leon and Raphael Rayco claimed that the suspension order contained glaring errors and included individuals who were no longer with the NFA.

Martires, however, asserted that there were no errors in the list.


Laurel expressed hope that more suspensions would be lifted “in due time” to normalize NFA operations.

Laurel currently serves as NFA’s administrator.

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