PACC clears Agriculture Secretary Piñol from corruption allegations

Marje Pelayo   •   June 13, 2019   •   2228

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.

Rice Tarrification Law, importation ‘ravage’ agricultural sector — Marcos

Maris Federez   •   December 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential aspirant, former senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos believes that rice importation being adopted by the government has been posing a challenge to the agricultural sector.

Marcos made the statement during the Agri 2022 online forum where the topic of suspending the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law surfaced.

“I understand that during the crisis, during the pandemic, our government decided to use importations to maintain the price of rice. Okay, that’s been effective. [But] the problem with importation and the Rice Tarrification Law is that it ravages the local agriculture,” Marcos said.

“But in the short term there’s still much that we can do. I think, ako, I wouldn’t mind if we suspend the Rice Tarrification Law first because it’s really destroying [the industry]. NFA is now buying Php18 to Php19. People don’t plant anymore at Php19,” he added.

Marcos also said that there are now very few younger generations who would want to venture into agriculture due to very small revenues being actually earned by farmers. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

House probes sudden drop of palay prices

Maris Federez   •   October 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has launched an investigation on the sudden drop in the price of palay in the provinces.

Newly harvested palay are reportedly being sold at Php9 to Php19 only; while dried palay are for sale for about Php12 to Php23.

According to Nueva Ecija 1st District Representative Estrellita Suansing, the very low price of palay is severely affecting the farmers.

“The buying price of palay continues to drop and it is making it hard for our farmers to recover from the production cost,” said Suansing.

Some groups are pointing at the Rice Tarrification Law as the cause for the losses that farmers are incurring.

The said law paved the way for fewer restrictions on rice importation.

Sorsogon 1st District Representative Evelina Escudero said due to the low price of palay, farmers resort to selling their freshly harvests to rice traders instead of the government.

“I’ve seen that farmers are not selling their palay to the Department of Agriculture or the NFA [National Food Authority] but to rice traders, so medyo hindi tama yun,” Escudero said.

The NFA, on the other hand, insisted that they buy directly from the farmers.

“Ang ating procurement period ay depende kung kailan pwede ng maani ang ating mga palay. Hindi naman po sabay sabay ang pagtatanim ng ating mga farmers,” said NFA Administrator Judy Carol Dansal.

Dansal said the agency has only around Php1 billion left in their fund of Php7 billion from buying locally produced palay.

The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), meanwhile, said that rice importation should not be blamed for the drop in prices of palay.

NEDA Director Nieva Natural said local farmers lack the equipment and technology and these play a big role in their revenue loss.

“We think that the low palay price experienced in some areas is primarily due to lack of bargaining power of farmers,” Natural said.

Under the Rice Tarrification Law, a Rice Competitive Enhancement Fund of Php10 billion was allocated to support the farmers. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

Piñol to run for senator, resigns from MinDA

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines— Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has resigned from his post to vie for a senatorial seat in the 2022 national elections.

In a Facebook post, Piñol announced that he has tendered his resignation which will take effect on October 5.

Piñol served as the Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary from June 30, 2016 to August 5, 2019 and as chairman of the MinDA from August 5, 2019 to October 5, 2021.

“I have reached a decision to vie for a seat in the Philippine Senate to pursue my advocacy to help the Filipino farmers and fishermen become more productive while at the same time ensuring food security and economic prosperity in the country,” he said in his post.

The official added that friends have pledged their support by lending vehicles and volunteering to print tarps and campaign in the field. He will run under the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and will pursue programs for farmers and boost the country’s agriculture.

“Our mission is clear and precise: Let us turn the Philippines into a major producer in Agriculture and Fisheries in this part of the world while at the same time create income and job opportunities so that our loved ones do not have to leave home to find work abroad,” Piñol said. AAC



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