DA exec named officer in charge of NFA pending rice row probe

DA exec named officer in charge of NFA pending rice row probe

PHOTO: Larry Lacson of NFA with NFA employees STORY: DA exec named officer in charge of NFA pending rice row probe

Director Larry Lacson of the Department of Agriculture has been named as officer in charge of the National Food Authority (NFA). (Photo from the Facebook account of the NFA)

MANILA, Philippines —Director Larry Lacson of the Department of Agriculture (DA) will temporarily head the National Food Authority (NFA) after the Office of the Ombudsman suspended the agency’s administrator, Roderico Bioco, together with 140 other officials and employees pending its investigation of the alleged anomalous sale of the government’s rice buffer stocks.

The NFA Council unanimously appointed Lacson as the officer in charge (OIC) “to make sure the agency’s operations run smoothly, especially during this harvest season,” Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. said in a statement on Monday.


A former director of the Bureau of Plant Industry, Lacson was named OIC deputy administrator of the NFA last week following the six-month suspensions without pay imposed by the Office of the Ombudsman.


Lacson is a member of the Philippine Food Expo Inc. and was co-chair of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s agriculture and fisheries committee.

Lacson, a doctor of agricultural science, major in crop science from De La Salle Araneta University, “brings to the NFA a unique perspective in running the day-to-day operations of the agency given his extensive experience in both the private sector and in government,” the DA said.

Grave misconduct at NFA

The Ombudsman suspended 141 executives and employees of the NFA as it investigated the sale of 75,000 bags of purportedly “deteriorating or aging” milled rice to select traders without going through public bidding at a disadvantageous price of P25 a kilo.

The charges against them included grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

Early this month, the Ombudsman initially suspended 139 NFA officials and employees, including Bioco, as it found “sufficient grounds” to implicate them in the questionable sale of milled rice amounting to P93.75 million.

A week later, two more officials — NFA OIC Piolito Santos and acting department manager for operation and coordination Jonathan Yazon — were served with a suspension order.


Last Friday, the Ombudsman revoked the suspension of at least two dozen NFA employees but clarified that the lifting had nothing to do with the alleged errors in the list of respondents, such as the inclusion of dead and retired employees as well as a worker on study leave.

It also said the reversal was not related to the motion for reconsideration filed by 108 employees before the Ombudsman last week.

In their filing, the 108 petitioners said they were only exercising “ministerial” tasks and did not possess discretionary powers on the processing of rice stocks.


The NFA controversy was triggered by a Feb. 12, 2024, letter-complaint to the Office of the President filed by NFA Assistant Administrator for Operations Lemuel Pagayunan, claiming that Bioco and his assistant administrators acted with “manifest partiality, evident bad faith and/or gross inexcusable negligence” when they authorized the sale of allegedly aging stocks of milled rice to select traders at low prices without securing the NFA Council’s approval.

READ: Acting NFA chief also gets suspended over rice sale

In his letter, Pagayunan cited the alleged irregular sale of “treated and fit for consumption” rice stocks made by Bioco to two rice traders — G4 Rice Mill San Miguel Corp. and NBK San Pedro Rice Mill.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

He also cited a Nov. 13, 2023, memorandum supposedly issued by Assistant Administrator for Operations John Robert Hermano instructing that the stocks be rebagged in containers without the NFA markings before selling them as commercial rice.

TAGS: Larry Lacson, National Food Authority

© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.