House probe sought into NFA’s alleged misuse of rice funds
MANILA, Philippines – Progressive lawmakers in the Makabayan bloc are seeking a congressional investigation into the National Food Authority (NFA) for diverting P5.1 billion meant for buying rice to pay off the agency’s debts.
The following legislators filed House Resolution No. 2120 on Friday, August 30, a copy of which was sent to reporters on Friday, August 31:
- ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro
- Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao
- Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate
- Gabriela Women’s Party Representatives Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas
- Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago
In filing HR 2120, the legislators want the House committee on agriculture and food probe the NFA's decision to spend P3.01 billion to offset its debt to the Bureau of the Treasury, while the remaining P2.09 billion was deposited to the NFA's rice collection savings account.
The Commission on Audit said in a report that the this move caused the rice shortage.
The Makabayan bloc filed the resolution a day after the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura filed a graft complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman against NFA Administrator Jason Aquino and accounting manager Gerry Ambrosio over the alleged misuse of NFA funds. (READ: Senators want NFA chief Aquino fired over rice crisis)
The lawmakers also want the House panel to probe the NFA’s failure to procure 124,969 metric tons of palay in 2017 and President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to favor rice importation. (READ: Taming rice prices: What lawmakers, experts say)
“The Duterte administration has adopted a flawed concept of food security that limited itself to ‘availability, accessibility, and utilization’ of rice, thus, its total reliance to importation, at the expense of Filipino farmers, to fill up the gap between the supply and consumption,” said Makabayan.
This is the 3rd time the Makabayan bloc filed a resolution calling for House probes into the rice supply problem.
House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya already urged the government to “fumigate the bigger pests” in the rice crisis – hoarders and price speculators.