PACC clears Agriculture Secretary Piñol from corruption allegations

Marje Pelayo   •   June 13, 2019   •   1510

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol

MANILA, Philippines – The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) announced on Wednesday (June 12) that it has cleared Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol from allegations of corruption in relation to the rice importation program of the National Food Authority (NFA).

In its Resolution 14 dated June 10, the Anti-Corruption Commission said it has “found no evidence pointing to unexplained wealth” after seven months of “thorough lifestyle check” on the Agriculture Secretary.

During the investigation that started in December 2018, Piñol agreed to open all his bank accounts and financial documents to scrutiny.

On his social media account, Piñol said he was relieved and overjoyed by the PACC’s findings.

“Today, I feel relieved. In fact, I am overjoyed and overwhelmed by the heartwarming statement issued by the PACC citing my action as proof that President Duterte has people around him who believe in his advocacy for upright and transparent governance,” he said Wednesday.

“I cannot claim to be a perfect government worker. I could and may have made wrong decisions. People could even accuse me of incompetence but nobody could question my dedication to my job and my work ethics,” he added in his statement.

The investigation was conducted by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Land Transportation Office (LTO), the Land Registration Authority (LRA), the Philippine National Police (PNP), Civil Security Group (CSG), and Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO).

The PACC, meanwhile, on its statement said that other officials of the Duterte administration are also undergoing probe by the agency after Secretary Piñol volunteered to undergo a full lifestyle check.

DA issues tougher guidelines on acquiring rice import permits

Marje Pelayo   •   November 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) maintains it is not stopping the issuance of permits to import rice.

“Hindi namin pinapa-stop (We are not stopping the importation.) We are implementing the law properly,” Secretary William Dar said.

Instead, the Department made the guidelines stricter which include inspection of storage houses.

On Tuesday (November 19), President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of rice importation because it is currently harvest time in the country.

According to the Federation of Free Farmers, stricter guidelines of rice importation is similar to stopping the process.

But they argue that the measure is just temporary while rice exporters are completing their requirements.

“In the meantime, na hindi sila maka-comply tigil muna ang export nila sa atin (In the meantime that they cannot comply, they need to stop exporting to us),” explained the farmers’ group’s Chairman Leonardo Montemayor.

The DA, meanwhile, will investigate farmers’ cooperatives and organizations who are using dummies in order to proceed with their importations.

“We will now look at three years of their business engagements kung may financial capability ba (if they have the financial capability),” Dar said.

“Mayroon ba silang warehouses? So lahat po ng pag-i-igting na iyon (Do they have warehouses? So we will intensify everything),” he added.

Dar said the President also wants to increase the buffer stocks of the National Food Authority (NFA) from 15 days to 30 days.

This would require the agency to purchase more palay from local farmers.

The NFA was also ordered to sell not lower than 20,000 sacks of rice per day.

Likewise, the unconditional cash transfer for farmers affected by the decreasing price of rice brought about by the rice tariffication law will be also be expanded to three years. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Duterte orders DA to suspend rice importation

Marje Pelayo   •   November 20, 2019

Filipino port workers unload sacks of rice, which are imported from Vietnam to be distributed by the National Food Authority (NFA), inside a ship docked at Surigao port, Mindanao, southern Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday (November 19) said he has ordered Agriculture Sec. William Dar to suspend rice importation because it’s harvest time for local rice.

He clarified, however, that rice importation is still necessary to maintain enough volume of rice supply in the country.

“Ang problema, hindi ka kasi makaasa dito sa producers (The problem is you cannot depend on the producers),” the President said.

“Magsabi sila: ‘Makatanim kami. Ma-harvest lang namin, (They should tell us: “We’ll plant rice. Give us time to harvest) we can fill up two-thirds or one-third of the requirement.’ Correct. Iyan ang sabi mo, pero hindi mo alam ang sitwasyon ng mundo mo (That’s what you believe but you don’t really know what’s happening in your industry),” he added.

Even so, the President said he has no plans of suspending the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law because he believes the law will solve problems in corruption in the country’s rice industry.

“What is the other remedy? Nothing. I cannot stop tariffication. Why? To erase corruption,” he said.

He also stressed that balancing rice supply through importation will prevent ‘food crisis.’

The President, nevertheless, assured that the government is willing to spend funds to support the needs of local farmers. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

MinDA requests DILG, PNP support in enforcing ASF quarantine measures

Marje Pelayo   •   October 1, 2019

A city veterinarian (L) takes a blood sample from a pig in a backyard piggery to test for African Swine Fever (ASF) in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, 17 September 2019. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) has sought the assistance of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in enforcing quarantine checkpoints in Mindanao.

In a letter addressed to DILG Secretary Eduardo Año and PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde, MinDA Chief Secretary Manny Piñol asked for the deployment of policemen to help facilitate the strict implementation of the shipment ban on live hogs, pork and pork products in line with the intensified quarantine measures against the African Swine Fever (ASF).

“The move to engage policemen in enforcing the ban came following reports that the ASF which was earlier reported in Rizal and Bulacan Province had spread to Pangasinan because of meat traders who continued to ply their trade in spite of the outbreak,” Piñol said.

Piñol cited that policemen and army units were also utilized during the avian influenza outbreak in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija in 2017.

The deployment of cops and soldiers helped the government in preventing the spread of the avian virus and was declared under control in just a period of one month.

Amid the outbreak of several provinces in Luzon, Mindanao and the Visayas remain ASF free.

This, according to Piñol, is because of “the vigilance and involvement of local government executives and the hog industry stakeholders.”

All over MindanaoDILG, POLICE SUPPORT SOUGHTTO ENFORCE ASF QUARANTINEDavao City – The Mindanao Development…

Posted by MannyPiñol on Monday, 30 September 2019

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