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MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has ordered an investigation into reported anomalies in the rice importations by the National Food Authority (NFA).In a two-page ―very urgent‖ memorandum, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to create a special team to ―investigate and examine the rice importation transactions undertaken by the NFA.‖She also wanted the NBI to ―evaluate the prospect of admitting potential witnesses and/or whistle-blowers in the department’s witness protection program.‖The DOJ chief gave NBI officer-in-charge Medardo de Lemos 15 days to submit an initial report on the issue.

De Lima issued the order upon request of activist lawyer Argee Guevarra, who earlier exposed alleged irregularities in the importation by the NFA of 205,700 metric tons of rice from Vietnam last April.In his letter to the DOJ last September, Guevarra sought an investigation into ―questionable importation of 187,000 metric tons (plus an additional 18,700) of rice under a government-to-government transaction‖ which was allegedly ―overpriced by as much as P450 million for a single transaction.‖Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1.The lawyer said the controversy should be ―subjected to exhaustive investigation by the concerned agencies of government with the purpose of dismantling the infrastructure for rice price manipulation and prosecuting officials involved.‖―Rice is an essential gut economic issue of the people which must be spared from predatory price machinations by rice cartels and their padrinos in government,‖ he stressed.

Congress had earlier initiated a probe into the controversy.Guevarra had questioned NFA’s government-to-government import transaction, citing President Aquino’s earlier pronouncement that the country was already rice self-sufficient.He also accused the agency under the Department of Agriculture of violating the World Trade Organization-General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (WTO-GATT), saying the NFA can no longer regulate rice imports after the June 2012 expiration of quantitative restrictions.With the NBI now looking into the alleged rice importation irregularities, Guevarra repeated his call for members of the NFA Council to resist ―the efforts of Alcala and Calayag to pursue a rice importation policy that clearly does not benefit our people.‖ He was referring to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and NFA administrator Orlan Calayag.―G2G (government to government) importation benefits no one – except maybe those who stand to profit from it,‖ he said.Guevarra said NFA Council members ―should not allow themselves to become unwitting accomplices of Alcala and Calayag‖ as congressional inquiries ―have raised more questions about the rationale behind government-led rice importation.‖

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7th november,2013 daily rice e newsletter (global rice news) by riceplus magazine  

Rice News

7th november,2013 daily rice e newsletter (global rice news) by riceplus magazine  

Rice News

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