Koronadal forms monitor for errant rice merchants

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/08 August) — The city government has created a special body that will monitor the operations of local rice retailers and millers as well as the distribution and selling in the area of rice products of the National Food Authority (NFA).

City Mayor Peter Miguel said Friday they created the monitoring body in response to reports that several rice retailers and millers in the area have been allegedly repackaging and selling NFA rice products in the local markets as commercial varieties.

He said some concerned residents have submitted evidences to his office in the form of video footages showing the supposed actual repacking of NFA rice products at a local warehouse.

The mayor said they are currently evaluating the video footages to verify their authenticity and whether they actually involved NFA rice products.

“We’re currently checking whether these evidences would be enough to pursue the arrest and prosecution of those involved,” Miguel said.

The mayor did not name the erring rice retailers and millers but he said they involved small to large-scale operations.

He said some of the involved retailers were operating at the city’s main public market and other outlets with the city’s downtown area.

Citing initial reports and evidences received by the local government, he said the NFA-accredited rice retailers were specifically repackaging the lower-priced rice products withdrawn from the agency into the M-1 rice variety.

He said the retailers reportedly take out the NFA rice products and repack them at their warehouses during night time.

Miguel said he initially directed the newly-formed monitoring body to look into the operations and gather more evidences against the erring rice retailers and millers.

He said the monitoring group is composed of officials and personnel from various departments and offices of the local government, specifically the City Agriculture Office, Task Force Kaayusan and the Civil Security Unit.

It also involved personnel from the NFA-South Cotabato provincial office and other concerned government agencies.

“It will conduct regular monitoring activities on rice outlets inside our public markets as well as those in other sections of the city to make sure that our NFA rice products are distributed and sold properly as well as discourage any form of illegal activity,” the mayor said.

Miguel said the city’s legal office is currently coordinating with the NFA for the formal deputation of the monitoring body as its enforcement arm for the area.

To assist the group’s operations, he said they are currently finalizing a reward or incentive scheme for information regarding illegal activities involving rice products.

He said cash rewards will be given to any individual who could give information that would lead to the arrest and prosecution of erring rice retailers and millers, especially those involved in large-scale illegal activities. (MindaNews)