72 suspended NFA officers reinstated

72 suspended NFA officers reinstated

/ 04:50 AM May 15, 2024

72 suspended NFA officers reinstated

Inquirer photo/Grig C. Montegrande

MANILA, Philippines — Another batch of suspended National Food Authority (NFA) officers assigned to various regional warehouses has been ordered reinstated by the Office of the Ombudsman after it found “insufficient ground to believe their continued stay in office may prejudice the investigation of the cases filed against them.”

In a May 10 order released only on Tuesday, Ombudsman Samuel Martires directed the lifting of the six-month suspension slapped against 72 NFA warehouse supervisors in March over their possible role in the questionable sale of rice buffer stocks to private traders in 2023.


The Ombudsman order also noted that state prosecutors had already secured the documents and pieces of evidence needed in the ongoing investigation of the allegedly irregular sale of aging milled rice to “preselected” traders without the NFA Council’s approval and with no public bidding.


READ: Ombudsman drops suspension of 23 NFA execs in buffer stock sale

“Thus, the continued preventive suspension of the … warehouse supervisors is no longer necessary,” Martires said in his order, which he directed Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. to comply with.

Reacting to the order, Tiu Laurel welcomed the lifting of the suspension, saying in a statement he had instructed the NFA to immediately implement it.

He added that this would allow the NFA to open still-padlocked warehouses and help in the procurement of additional palay supply. He also reported that the results of the Department of Agriculture’s own investigation into the rice sale should be completed soon, and its results would be shared with the Ombudsman.

READ: NFA pledges full cooperation in rice stock probe

The suspended supervisors were assigned to NFA warehouses in the regions of Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Soccsksargen, Caraga, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Samuel Martires and Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires and Agriculture Sec. Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr.

They were in addition to the 24 warehouse managers who were also ordered reinstated in mid-March, Martires told the Inquirer.

45 still serving penalty

This meant that only 45 of the total number of 141 suspended NFA warehouse managers have yet to be reinstated.

Still suspended are NFA Administrator Roderico Bioco, officer in charge Piolito Santos and acting department manager for operation and coordination Jonathan Yazon.

They were charged with grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service over the sale of supposedly deteriorating rice stocks totaling P93.75 million for only P25 per kilo.

The investigation was based on the letter-complaint dated Feb. 12, 2024, which was filed by NFA Assistant Administrator for Operations Lemuel Pagayunan in the Office of the President.

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On March 14, a total of 108 NFA employees, mostly warehouse staff and some branch and regional managers, asked the Office of the Ombudsman to rethink their suspension, arguing that they were merely assigned with “ministerial duty” and did not wield discretionary powers in the agency.

TAGS: Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr., NFA, NFA warehouse supervisors, Ombudsman, Samuel Martires

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