Philippines Suspends Over 130 Officials Over Rice Sale Scandal

Philippines Suspends Over 130 Officials Over Rice Sale Scandal

MANILA, Mac 4 (NNN-PNA) – The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the preventive suspension of the National Food Authority (NFA) head, and 138 other officials and employees, for their alleged involvement in a sale of rice buffer stock, Philippine Agriculture Secretary, Francisco Tiu Laurel, said today.

Laurel said, the order started today, while an investigation is underway to see if the accusations are true.

An NFA official has accused several agency executives of improperly disposing of rice buffer stocks without bidding, and at a price allegedly disadvantageous to the government. The NFA executives deny any impropriety, claiming the sale followed procedures.

On Friday, Laurel suggested that NFA officials under probe should take a voluntary leave of absence, to give investigators a free hand to do their work.

“This internal investigation is just the first step,” said Laurel, adding that, the agriculture department will act based on the investigation results.

The controversy erupted as Filipinos grappled with high rice prices. The Philippines continues to struggle to lower the cost of rice despite an ample supply of the national staple.

Rice inflation accelerated to 22.6 percent in Jan, from 19.6 percent in Dec, 2023, reaching a fresh high in 14 years, for the food staple’s inflation rate, or the highest since Mac, 2009, when rice inflation hit 22.9 percent.– NNN-PNA  


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