Thursday , 18 April 2024
Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa

NFA assures full cooperation in probe on alleged anomalous rice buffer stock sale

The Department of Agriculture (DA) assured Friday that the National Food Authority (NFA) shall provide all information needed for the investigation of the alleged improper sale of rice buffer stock.

The DA made the remark following a report that an unnamed NFA official allegedly intended to withhold documents amid the investigation of the Office of the Ombudsman.

“Nag-utos na rin si Secretary (Francisco) Tiu Laurel Jr. sa bagong naitalagang OIC (Officer-in-charge) Administrator si Director Larry Lacson na siguraduhin na lahat ng dokumentong kinakailangan ng Ombudsman ay maibigay kaagad (Secretary Tiu Laurel Jr. ordered new OIC Administrator Larry Lacson to ensure that all documents needed by the Ombudsman must immediately be given),” Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa said at the Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon briefing.

Although the DA is not privy on who the alleged official is, De Mesa said Lacson is already in coordination with the lawyer-in-charge of the Ombudsman.

“Nangako si Administrator Larry Lacson na lahat ng dokumento ay maibibigay agad at lahat ng taong kailangang ma-interview ay ma-i-interview (Administrator Larry Lacson vowed to release all the documents, and ensure that all persons to be interviewed shall be interviewed),” he added.

The Ombudsman’s investigation is in full swing alongside a parallel probe on the DA’s end, which earlier vowed to look back to procurement and rice quality assessment records as early as 2019.

To date, 24 out of the 141 suspended officials and employees were granted lifting of suspension orders, which include 23 warehouse supervisors and a branch manager.

The DA earlier ordered the transfer of authorities to deputy supervisors on Thursday to ensure the resumption of operations of padlocked warehouses nationwide.

This is to ensure continuous purchase of palay amid the peak harvest season, as the country secures 300,000 metric tons of national rice buffer stock. PNA

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