More anomalies seen in Ecija palay graft cases

>> Tuesday, December 22, 2015

12 NFA officials relieved; procurement stopped 

By Manny Galvez

CABANATUAN CITY – The National Food Authority office in Nueva Ecija, which is investigating the reported misclassification of 32,695 bags of palay, is looking into other possible anomalies in the procurement deal, NFA Region 3 director Amadeo de Guzman said Wednesday.
Following this, the NFA in Central Luzon suspended the operation of its mobile procurement teams in Nueva Ecija in the wake of the misclassification of some 32,000 bags of palay.
“Misclassification is just a tip of the iceberg. Marami pang lalabasdiyan (Many more anomalies will come out),” De Guzman said of what officials here said of the graft scandal.
He said misdeclaration in the handling of the procured grains could have possibly been committed.
“We will also look into that. That will be part of our investigation,” he said.
Earlier, De Guzman said some agency officials and personnel could be conspiring with some unscrupulous businessmen.
Two top NFA officials and 10 personnel were earlier relieved from their posts for misclassifying 32,695 bags of palay.
De Guzman said instead of declaring the bags of palay wet, the NFA personnel classified these as dry and clean.
With the misclassification, the personnel made it appear that the procurement amounted to P27.8 million, when the actual cost was only P17.9 million.
Two NFA officials based in Nueva Ecija and five others were relieved from their posts Dec. 3 in connection with the misclassification of 32,695 bags of palay.
De Guzman identified the officials as George Roca and Daniel Valenzuela, NFA provincial manager and assistant manager.
Earlier, five NFA personnel were relieved from their posts over the same case.
De Guzman said he decided to relieve Roca and Valenzuela pending the results of an investigation by a fact-finding team.
He said no case has been filed yet against the two officials.
De Guzman and NFA assistant regional director Marciano Alvarez took over Roca’s and Valenzuela’s posts in concurrent capacities, respectively.     
The relief of the seven brought to 12 the total number of sacked NFA personnel.
Relieved earlier were solar dryer engineer Edmar Torres, quality control officers Cesar Paul de Guia and Adam Rayo, pest control officer Leo Thereso Ramos and acting provincial quality assurance officer Jimmy Mallari.
De Guzman said four others would be included in the investigation to determine their involvement in the misclassification of stocks.
De Guzman said the relief of Roca and Valenzuela was ordered by Renan Dalisay, who directed the security and investigation services department, the internal audit services department and technical research and services department to investigate the case.
De Guzman clarified that the 32,695 bags of palay were not typhoon-damaged, as earlier reported.
“These palay bags were not typhoon-damaged but were misclassified,” he said, noting instead of being declared as wet, the bags of palay were made to appear as dry and clean.       
De Guzman said the five teams have stopped operating and their tasks were turned over to the stationary procurement teams.
“Because of the anomalies in the procurement, we deemed it best to suspend the operations of our mobile teams,” he said.
De Guzman said each of the five mobile teams is capable of procuring up to 1,000 bags of palay.
He clarified that the suspension applies only to Nueva Ecija, where the anomaly was discovered.
“Palay procurement by our mobile teams continues in the provinces of Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales,” he said.
The NFA is investigating the misclassification of 32,695 bags of palay in the province.
The two agency officials and 10 personnel relieved for classifying the bags of palay dry and clean, when it should have been listed as wet are now being investigated by the agency’s four probe teams, including three from the central office.

Initial investigation showed the procurement officers declared the cost at P27.8 million, when the actual cost was only P17.9 million.


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