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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

DA says will desist from revamping moves

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The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it will desist from any significant revamp within its affiliated agencies after the Office of the Ombudsman removed several officials of the National Food Authority (NFA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

The Ombudsman in March 2024, suspended former NFA administrator Roderico Bioco and other officials for allegedly selling rice reserves at a loss. 

This was followed by the dismissal of BFAR director Demosthenes Escoto in 2017 over a bidding irregularity. Escoto was dismissed over alleged “grave misconduct” in the bidding for the contract of vessel monitoring systems.

Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel assures these are isolated incidents. He downplays any impact of Escoto’s dismissal on the ongoing NFA rice investigation, expected to conclude soon. 

Both agencies continue normal operations under acting heads: Larry Lacson for NFA and Isidro Velayo Jr. for BFAR.

“I think these are isolated incidents. The former NFA administrator’s case happened early this year while the case of director Escoto happened in 2017. It’s just unfortunate that the orders of the Ombudsman were issued one after the other,” said DA secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel.

He said the order removing BFAR director Escoto, who was earlier tasked to head the review of the disposition of NFA rice buffer stocks in recent years, shouldn’t have a major impact on the investigation which should be completed in the coming weeks.

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