People behind rice scam will be prosecuted, Palace assures


Posted at Jan 20 2011 08:14 PM | Updated as of Jan 21 2011 03:35 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Proper charges will be filed against the person or persons involved in the alleged overpriced contracts to import rice during the Arroyo administration.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte gave this assurance as the National Food Authority (NFA) began conducting its own audit of rice importations made during the time of former President Gloria Arroyo.

Valte said an investigation into the matter has also been launched, with the help of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

NFA Administrator Lito Banayo earlier reported, citing an audit of a private group, that the government lost P20 billion due to overpriced rice importations over the last 10 years.

Former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, who is now the representative of Bohol, denied the report, saying Banayo fudged the data.

Yap said Banayo used "raw" spot prices, which were much lower than the "landed" price that includes the cost of transportation, insurance, freight, etc.

Yap also said that rice importations under the Arroyo administration went through bidding procedures.

But Valte said, "What we have (the evidence) shows the contrary."
Lawmakers have already sought congressional inquiry into the alleged rice scam. - with a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News