Palace mum if GMA linked to NFA smuggling


Posted at May 17 2011 01:44 PM | Updated as of May 17 2011 09:49 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Tuesday declined to comment if former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo may be charged in connection with the alleged “legalized smuggling” of rice by the National Food Authority (NFA).

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Palace has not seen a copy of the audit report. Nonetheless, the agencies concerned are expected to investigate the alleged anomaly.

“Ang orders sa kanila ay to investigate and ferret out the truth really on what happened sa mga alleged anomalies na ito, taking into consideration yung thoroughness and speed. Dapat magawa nila ang trabaho nila within a particular framework,” Valte said.

The team that audited the NFA said the agency incurred billions of pesos in losses from its rice importation from 2008-2010.

The team cited irregularities including fictitious bidders, rice trader cartels, questionable rebates and refunds, wrong timing of NFA imports amounting to 2.2 million metric tons of rice and over-importation.

The Philippines is now considered as the largest importer of rice in the world. Since 1996, the country has been importing over 600,000 metric tons (MT) of rice annually. In the past 5 years, annual rice imports were registered at over 1 million MT. Report by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News