DA chief implements preventive suspension of 139 NHA execs

March 4, 2024 Cory Martinez 157 views

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

Following the implementation of the Ombudsman’s order, Laurel said he would take over as administrator of the NFA while that second-in-command to several dozen suspended officials will temporarily take charge to avoid service disruptions.

Ordered suspended for six months were 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 the government,” Laurel said.

“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.

Laurel, on the other hand, ordered the officers in charge to fully cooperate with the Office of the Ombudsman and DA’s 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, Laurel 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 primary 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.

Laurel, however, said that he 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.