Ombudsman orders reinstatement of 72 NFA warehouse supervisors

MANILA: The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the reinstatement of 72 warehouse supervisors of the National Food Authority (NFA) suspended last March.

The group was among the 139 respondent officials and employees placed on a six-month preventive suspension on March 1 amid the investigation into the alleged anomalous sale of NFA rice buffer stocks to select traders.

In its 23-page order dated May 10, Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires and Special Prosecutor Edliberto G. Sandoval said ‘there is insufficient ground to believe that their continued stay in office may prejudice the investigation of the case filed against them.”

“Thus, the continued preventive suspension of the afore-named warehouse supervisors is no longer necessary,” the ruling read.

The Ombudsman and the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) internal panel of investigators are conducting an investigation into the alleged improper sale of 75,000 bags of NFA rice buffer stock worth over PHP93.7 million.

More NFA warehouses to reopen

The DA welcomed t
he Ombudsman order, saying more NFA warehouses are now ready to reopen and help the agency procure additional rice supply.

‘I’m happy that the suspensions have been lifted on the 72 warehouse supervisors. I instructed the NFA to immediately implement the Ombudsman’s order,’ DA Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. said in a statement.

The 72 warehouse supervisors oversee warehouses in Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol Region, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Soccsksargen, Caraga Region, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The NFA targets to secure 300,000 metric tons of palay for buffer stocking.

Laurel, meanwhile, said the DA shall soon complete its parallel investigation on the matter, and results will be shared with the Office of the Ombudsman.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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