PACC clears Agriculture Secretary Piñol from corruption allegations

Marje Pelayo   •   June 13, 2019   •   1342

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.

William Dar is new acting DA chief — Malacañang

Marje Pelayo   •   August 5, 2019

William Dar

MANILA, Philippines — Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea confirmed the appointment of William Dar as acting Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Dar will take over the Department from Secretary Manny Piñol who has been appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to head the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).

Dar served a one-year term as secretary of Agriculture (1998-1999) under the administration of former President Joseph Estrada.

He was the former director-general of the International Center for Research in the Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT) from 1999 to 2014.

He served as the founding director of DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Research.

Dar is expected to join this afternoon’s Cabinet meeting at Malacañang. – with details from Rosalie Coz

Duterte’s anti-corruption body to conduct lifestyle checks on PCSO officials

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 1, 2019

PNP officials lead the closure of PCSO gaming activities following President Rodrigo’s call for its temporary shutdown due to alleged massive corruption. | Courtesy: PVI International

The Presidential Anti-Crime and Corruption will conduct lifestyle checks on several officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PSCO) following corruption allegations.

The list will also include former general manager Alexander Balutan and current chairman Anselmo Pinili.

“We will be conducting a lifestyle check on all of them after the pronouncement of the President that he is closing down PCSO operations for massive corruption, on top of the cases that are already pending before us,” according to Presidential Anti-Crime and Corruption Commissioner Greco Belgica.

READ: PCSO says lotto ops to resume Wednesday after lifting of suspension

President Rodrigo Duterte has lifted the suspension of PCSO gaming activities after he declared ‘massive corruption’ in the agency last week.

However, Peryahan ng Bayan, small town lottery (STL) and Keno will remain suspended due to “pending the investigation of illegal activities and corrupt practices.”—AAC

Farmers to lose P114-B a year if farm gate price of palay remains low — Piñol

Marje Pelayo   •   July 17, 2019

Rice farmers in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – Local farmers may lose up to P114 billion if the farm gate price of fresh palay remains low, according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol.

At present, the price of palay ranges only from P12/kg to P14/kg which is lower than the P20/kg, the price that was in effect before the implementation of the Rice Tarrification Law (RTL) in March.

Secretary Piñol noted that traders earn huge income from the liberalization of rice importation.

He also pointed out that the landed cost of rice is only a small amount like those which are imported from Myanmar which is only P18/kg.

Because the new law stripped off National Food Authority’s (NFA) regulatory function, traders have become aggressive in pushing for more importation.

“Masyadong ganadong mag-import yung mga trader right now kasi feeling nila wala ng magko-control sa presyo ng bentahan ng bigas sa palengke. So napakalaki ng margin of profit nila, (Traders have become more aggressive to import because they believe nobody else will control the pricing of rice in local markets so their margin of profit is increasing),” the Agriculture chief said.

Based on the Department of Agriculture’s monitoring, rice prices at present ranges from P32/kg up to P70/kg with only about P1 to P2 drop per kilogram.

This is about a quarter of the expected reduction in the price of commercial rice in relation to the implementation of the rice tariffication law which is supposedly P7/kg.

The Department is set to implement the suggested retail price (SRP) on commercial rice starting next week which ranges from P35/kg to P38/kg.

“We would like to address the greed of some importers doon sa markup nilang napakalaki (regarding their very high markup) by setting a cap on the selling price of imported rice

The official said the implementation of the SRP is based on the Price Act wherein violators may be fined.

The NFA already implemented the SRP on rice in the past but it was invalidated due to the implementation of the RTL.

Piñol said that the law did not specify a limit on the amount of rice that the country may import.

However, it gives the President the authority to increase tariff in the event of oversupply. – with details from Rey Pelayo

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