Wala akong front: NFA chief denies meddling in local rice procurement

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 27 2018 01:38 PM | Updated as of Feb 27 2018 02:24 PM

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MANILA - The head of the National Food Authority on Tuesday rejected allegations of wrongdoing as the agency grappled with a shortage in its buffer stock of state-subsidized cheap grain. 

During a Senate hearing into the issue, Senator Grace Poe brought up reports that NFA Administrator Jason Aquino allegedly used 2 employees to carry out questionable orders. 

A certain Richie Carpio supposedly threatens employees with work transfer if they defy Aquino's directives while a Marigold De Castro is supposedly controlling rice businesses in Central Luzon on his behalf, said Poe. 

"Wala po. Wala po akong front saka hindi po ako nakikialam sa local procurement," Aquino said. 

(I don't have any front and I don't interfere with local procurement.)

RAPS VS DEPUTY? 

Poe also raised reports that NFA Deputy Judy Dansal was appointed to her post despite her "questionable track record" and pending complaints against her. 

Dansal said she was tagged in a complaint against alleged rice smuggler David Bangayan, alias David Tan, but this was resolved in her favor in 2016. 

"I have a very recently issued clearance from the Office of the Ombudsman that I have no pending case at the Sandiganbayan or even the National Bureau of Investigation," Dansal told Poe. 

The NFA earlier said the agency's rice stocks have been depleted due to multiple typhoons before the end of 2017. It said a request for additional importation has yet to be approved.

NFA officials said its buffer stock will only last for 2 days, far below the required 15-day buffer stock.