NFA chief pressed to file raps vs. GMA, Yap

Militant groups on Friday urged National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Lito Banayo to file criminal and other appropriate charges against former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary and now Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap in connection with the importation of overpriced rice by $ 125 per metric ton over the last three years from 2008 to 2010.

In a joint press statement, the militant peasant groups Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said Banayo should purse the filing of raps against Reps. Arroyo and Yap for orchestrating this grandmother of corruption since Arroyo assumed the presidency in 2001.

“The issue of truth and justice should not end with the exposition of the crime. The next big step the NFA should do is to bring Mrs. Arroyo, Mr. Yap and their partners in crime before the bars of justice. So, Mr. Banayo what’s next?” the rural based groups said in a joint statement.

Banayo said an audit of the 10-year importation record of NFA showed that its rice imports were overpriced by $60 per metric ton, and such over importation of overpriced rice imports pushed the debt of NFA to P 177 billion.

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said the first corrective measure that should be undertaken by NFA is the filing of criminal raps against Arroyo and Yap. The peasant leader said the NFA audit performance report should also merit the immediate cancellation of all plans pertaining to rice importation this year which amount to 700,000 metric tons of rice from foreign countries or about 33 percent of the 2.4 million metric tons imported last year.

Ramos said the House of Representatives should also conduct a full-blown investigation on rice importation based on the 10-year audit performance on rice importation of the NFA over the last decade. “We suggest the leadership of House Speaker Sonny Belmonte to investigate this rice scandal and make Reps. Arroyo and Yap accountable for their crimes against the People of the Philippines,” he said.

For his part, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the discovery of 10-year overpricing of NFA rice imports merits a P 13 per kilo rice rollback in the price of NFA retailed rice or from the present P 27 per kilo to P 14 per kilo of NFA sold rice.

“Secretary Banayo and members of NFA Council must roll back the price of rice from P 27 to P 14 per kilo.  We believe it correct and just,” said Hicap.

“The accumulated P 13 per kilo increase in the price of rice since 2001 is an economic injustice both to farmers and the poor consumers. The NFA since time immemorial has exploiting both the farmers and the poor consumers to raise additional funds for importation of rice abroad, pave way for the grand privatization of the agency and transform NFA into an all-time billion peso producing government agency for bureaucrat capitalists like Arroyo and Yap,” said Pamalakaya. D’Jay Lazaro

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