NFA Cotabato manager relieved from post

NFA Regional Director Rogelio Macutay said the alleged "irregularities" in the release of NFA rice, which took place in "so short a time," has demoralized many employees in the province.

Records from the NFA showed the more than 21,000 bags of rice were withdrawn from the warehouse from March 6 to 18.

Also, Macutay learned from some members of the Grain Retailers Confederation (GRECON), NFA's partner NGO, that Bernad was able to release the stocks after borrowing their "passbooks." The withdrawal cannot take place without the "passbook" of any GRECON member.

One of those retailers that said Bernad was doing the "illegal thing" was Mansueto Betia from M'lang in North Cotabato, who, after he let the manager used his "passbook," was surprised to see that the NFA has released him some 1,734 bags of imported rice.

"I did not receive any bag of NFA rice from Bernad, not one, since March," he said.

More than 3,600 bags of rice were also delivered to a retailer in Kabacan town identified only by his family name, Estrada, from March 6 to 13. Consumers, however, are complaining they cannot buy even a single kilo of NFA rice in any store in Kabacan.

What surprised investigators from NFA who arrived Kidapawan City last Wednesday was when they learned that more than 200 bags of NFA rice were also withdrawn from the warehouse and delivered to a government office in Koronadal City in South Cotabato.

Such release was proof that the stocks of NFA in North Cotabato have been transported to areas outside the province, they said.

Macutay and some representatives from the NFA central office arrived three days ago in Kidapawan City where they met North Cotabato Vice Governor Manny Piñol, chair of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan that is leading an investigation against Bernad.

Piñol and members of the board grilled Bernad for two hours during their regular session last Tuesday. Afterwards, they passed a resolution that moved for the creation of a task force to lead the investigation.

Bernad would be replaced by Rey Salvatierra, assistant provincial manager of NFA Cotabato. Macutay said he had Bernad go on leave while investigations are still ongoing. (MindaNews)