Kidapawan food aid halted as city council pushes for probe of poor quality rice

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 14 April) – City Mayor Joseph Evangelista has put on hold the second wave of relief aid after the Sangguniang Panlungsod suggested a probe on the quality of rice being distributed to families affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Evangelista heads the City Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19.

On Monday, the Sanggunian passed a resolution that strongly recommended an in-depth investigation as to where the more than 250 bags of alleged low-quality rice had come from.

In his privilege speech, City Councilor Carlo Agamon told the council that the rice being distributed to some residents in Barangay Paco had “bukbok” or weevils, brownish in color, “broken” or not milled properly, and adulterated or mixed with other brands.

In his Facebook account, Agamon posted pictures of the controversial rice.

Using as basis Agamon’s speech, the Sanggunian passed a resolution that requested the mayor’s office to lead the investigation.

Vice Mayor Jivy Roe “Jiv-Jiv” Bombeo said it was the mayor’s office that has knowledge as to where the rice had come from.

“Once the supplier is identified, then, appropriate action should be taken against that trader,” said Bombeo.

The SP resolution did sit not well with the mayor.

“Why would the City Mayor’s Office investigate the complaint? It was the Sanggunian that received the complaints. It is just proper that they lead the probe, not us,” Evangelista stressed.

Also on Monday, Evangelista has written a letter addressed to the Sanggunian and made an appeal that the council shall proceed with its probe once the issue on COVID-19 has already settled or when everything returns to normalcy.

For the mayor, the complaints the Sanggunian received involved only 0.18 percent of the total number of households that received the food rations.

He noted that there were only 79 complainants as compared to the 43,000 households that received food packs from the city government.

Earlier, Evangelista admitted that they missed checking the quality of rice being supplied to the city government from the traders and millers.

“We had 25,000 bags of rice that needed to be distributed to our affected families. Nalusutan lang talaga tayo, pero iilan lang naman ’yun,” he said in a radio interview.

Because of the impending probe, Evangelista has decided to hold in abeyance the second wave of relief distribution.

“Simply put, this investigation the SP has recommended should be done after the pandemic. In the spirit of transparency, I will go for the investigation, but it must be done by the Sanggunian, and not my office. Pending their investigation, I will have to put on hold the relief distribution,” he said.

Funds for the second wave of food rationing would come from the P29.1 million the Sanggunian approved for release two weeks ago. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)