June 25, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

Ombudsman suspends 139 NFA officials amid rice sale probe

AGRICULTURE Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel, Jr. on Monday implemented the preventive suspension ordered by the Ombudsman against 139 officials of the National Food Authority (NFA) amidst ongoing investigation into the alleged disadvantageous sale of rice buffer stocks.

Among those suspended by the Ombudsman for up to six months are NFA administrator Roderico Bioco, assistant administrator for operations John Robert Hermano,12  regional managers, 27 branch managers and 98 warehouse supervisors throughout the country.

“The preventive suspension would allow the Ombudsman to secure all documents and other evidence relating, but not limited to, the sale of rice buffer stocks that is greatly disadvantageous to government,” he said. 

Sec. Tiu Laurel said he will take over as administrator of the NFA while those second-in-command to several dozen suspended officials will temporarily take charge to avoid service disruptions. “I will be in charge and it will be business as usual at NFA. We cannot, even in the face of this investigation, allow our fellow Filipinos to be deprived of government services they deserve,” he stressed.

The officers-in-charge, he said, are also ordered to fully cooperate with the Office of the Ombudsman and DA’s own internal investigators and provide all documents needed to quickly complete the probe and bring the corrupt before the bar of justice.

The mass suspension of NFA officials, the agri chief said, should be viewed as a “stern warning” to those seeking to test the resolve of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to cleanse government agencies, particularly the DA, whose primarily stakeholders are millions of poor farmers and fisherfolk.

“We intend to dig deep and welcome those who would come forward to assist us in probing the NFA,” said Sec. Tiu Laurel. “The Ombudsman and the Department of Agriculture are coordinating on this investigation that could go back years, at least as far back as 2019,” he added.

Sec. Tiu Laurel cannot give further details since the Ombudsman’s investigation is ongoing. “Rest assured that once we have results, we will immediately inform the public,” he said.