Accuser owned 'animal feed' warehouse
MANILA – National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Arthur Juan tendered his courtesy resignation amid allegations of extortion, but presidential adviser on food security and agricultural modernization Francis Pangilinan rejected it.
Juan is accused of extorting P15 million from rice trader Jojo Soliman, whose warehouse in Malolos, Bulacan was raided last July for alleged unscrupulous practice of selling adulterated rice.
Soliman is accused of mixing broken rice intended for animal feed with imported rice before selling them as Sinandomeng rice.
Soliman's warehouse was padlocked on July 4. On July 7, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Pangilinan accompanied the media to the warehouse to show the seized sacks of rice.
In a statement submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation, Soliman claimed that Juan extorted P15 million from him in exchange for the dropping of charges against him and the reopening of his business.
According to Soliman, P5 million of the total amount was meant for Juan himself. Soliman said the remaining P10 million, as Juan allegedly told him, would be split between Roxas and Pangilinan.
Soliman said the money meant for Juan was placed inside a Louis Vuitton slingbag and then left under the table at a barbecue and noodles restaurant in Makati City for pickup.
He said Juan's assistant, lawyer Patricia Galang, requested that the money be placed inside the LV bag worth P76,000. He said the lawyer instructed him to leave the bag at the restaurant where it will be picked up right after he leaves.
Soliman said he deposited P5 million each to two different bank accounts allegedly on Juan's instructions.
Juan filed his courtesy resignation even as he maintained that the allegations of Soliman were fabricated.
Pangilinan has also denied the allegation in a response to the Philipine Daily Inquirer.
In rejecting Juan's resignation, Pangilinan said the extortion allegation is meant to tarnish his and Juan's reputation and divert the public's attention from the charges. He said Juan still has his confidence. He also urged Galang not to leave her post.
Before he was appointed as NFA administrator, Juan served in the private sector for 26 years and held the position of president of San Miguel Foods Inc.
He was a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy class of '68 and served in the Philippine Air Force before working in the private sector.
Juan replaced Orlan Calayag, who resigned in May to give Pangilinan the leeway to perform his duties. – report from Dexter Ganibe, dzMM