NFA widens probe into Ecija’s palay buying scam
CABANATUAN CITY—Administrative and operational control of the National Food Authority (NFA) office in Nueva Ecija province has been taken over by the agency’s Central Luzon director following the relief of its managers due to an ongoing investigation into an alleged palay buying scam.
George Roca, NFA manager in Nueva Ecija, and his assistant provincial manager, Daniel Valenzuela, were directed by NFA Administrator Renan Dalisay to hand over the office to NFA Regional Director Amadeo de Guzman.
“We will temporarily manage the affairs of the NFA provincial office in Nueva Ecija until the investigation of the alleged anomaly in the procurement of 33,000 bags of storm-affected palay is completed,” De Guzman said.
The bags of palay were part of the 95,000 acquired by the NFA provincial office a week after the onslaught of Typhoon “Lando” (international name: Koppu).
Nueva Ecija, the rice bowl of Central Luzon, suffered losses of P3.4 billion in expected rice harvest when Lando lashed through the region and northern Luzon. A total of 7,088 hectares of palay about to be harvested was destroyed by the wind, flood and silt, while 130,417 ha of the standing crop was damaged.
Bought by the procurement team at P11 per kilogram, the palay was passed off as higher-quality cereal that was priced at P17 per kilogram, De Guzman said.
He said eight NFA personnel who were implicated in the transactions had also been relieved of their posts. They included solar dryer engineer Edmar Torres, quality control officers Cesar Paul de Guia and Adam Rayo, pest control officer Leo Thereso Ramos, and acting provincial quality assurance officer Jimmy Mallari.
Six other employees were transferred to other posts.
De Guzman said he ordered the regional quality assurance officer to test the quality of the newly bought palay after he found that inferior grains were being processed by the agency’s solar dryer.
The NFA buys palay with a moisture content of 14 percent, but the bags from the NFA Nueva Ecija office contained newly harvested palay with moisture content of up to 20 percent, he said.
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