NFA South Cot suspends 8 erring rice retailers

Pangalian Busran, NFA-South Cotabato provincial manager, said the penalized retailers were found by the agency’s monitors to have been repacking the cheaper NFA rice and selling them to the markets as the higher-priced commercial rice.

He said they uncovered the violations during regular inspections conducted by their monitors in the last three weeks.

“We already imposed the necessary penalties (on the violators). Right now, our random inspections are continuing because there might be some more cases out there,” he said in a radio interview this morning.

Busran said they are doing a regular revalidation of the retailers’ accreditation.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo earlier ordered the Department of Agriculture (DA) to intensify its crackdown on rice hoarders, revoking traders’ licenses and requiring them to reapply under stricter rules.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said the revocation of NFA-accredited retailers’ licenses is aimed at preventing the diversion of the subsidized rice supplies.

With or without such directive, Busran assured that their office has been taking appropriate measures on the matter.

“We’re doing the accreditation and revalidation of the retailers’ passbooks year-round. This is to make sure that all of them are complying with our policies,” he said.

Busran said the moment they uncover violations made by some retailers, the agency immediately metes out the corresponding penalties, which range from suspension to cancellation of the accreditations and payment of hefty fines.

But so far, Busran said they have yet to uncover cases of dummy rice retailers. “We always make sure that we can physically verify the facilities and operations of an aspiring NFA rice retailer before we issue their accreditation,” he said.

Before a rice retailer can be issued an NFA accreditation, Busran said they should have a verified outlet at a public market, a valid mayor’s permit and complete facilities such as standard rice boxes, a table weighing scale and proper price tags. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)