Ombudsman lifts suspension on 72 NFA warehouse supervisors

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
Ombudsman lifts suspension on 72 NFA warehouse supervisors
Workers unload sacks of rice at a warehouse in Tondo, Manila on Feb. 24, 2024.
The STAR/Ernie Penaredondo

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has lifted the suspension of 72 out of 139 officials and employees of the National Food Authority (NFA) implicated in the alleged anomalous sale of government rice buffer stocks to private traders.

In a 23-page resolution by the Ombudsman, it said that the officials, who are NFA's warehouse supervisors, have already complied by submitting all the necessary documents and evidence in connection with the case. 

"Among of the primordial purposes ni the imposition of the preventive suspension against respondent NFA officials and employees si to prevent any prejudice which may be caused by respondents' continued stay ni office during the investigation of the case filed against them and to preserve documents and evidence pertaining to this case which respondents have control and custody," the resolution read.

"Moreover, 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," it added. 

The implicated officials include warehouse supervisors from NFA offices across several regions: Region 3, Region IV-A, MIMAROPA, Region 5, Region 6, Region 7, Region 9, Region 10, Region 12, Region 11 and BARMM.

The Ombudsman earlier lifted the suspension order on 23 NFA officials on March 16.

RELATED: Ombudsman lifts suspension order vs 23 NFA personnel

Currently, 44 officials and employees of the NFA remain under preventive suspension.

On March 1, the Ombudsman has ordered the suspension of 139 officials and employees of the NFA over the agency's low price sale of its buffer stock without public auction and without the approval of the NFA council.

RELATED: Ombudsman suspends NFA execs amid cheap rice sale probe

According to the Rice Tariffication Law, the NFA is required to maintain the country's rice buffer stock at a level equivalent to 15 to 30 days of national rice consumption, taking into account disaster situations and emergencies. 

The NFA is allowed to sell stocks before the rice quality degrades or becomes unsafe for consumption.

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