By Stephanie Sevillano

Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. (File photo)

MANILA – Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. on Monday reassumed the National Food Authority (NFA) leadership following the suspension issued by the Office of the Ombudsman against two more officials of the food body.

The new preventive suspension order includes the newly designated NFA Officer-in-charge Piolito Santos and the Department Manager for Operation and Coordination Jonathan Yazon.

In a news release, Laurel assured unhampered operations in the NFA despite the ongoing investigation on the alleged improper sale of rice buffer stock.

“We want to stabilize the situation at the NFA following the events of last week,” he said.

Laurel also encouraged the remaining personnel to sustain working on their respective functions.

“We want to help NFA employees during these challenging times to continue to provide uninterrupted service, especially during this harvest season,” he said.

Laurel, meanwhile, assigned Director IV Larry Lacson as the new officer in charge deputy administrator.

On March 6, Laurel designated Santos, who was the NFA’s former Assistant Administrator for Finance and Administration, as the new NFA OIC.

This came following the first preventive suspension order of the Ombudsman against NFA administrator Roderico Bioco, assistant administrator for operations John Robert Hermano, 13 regional managers, 26 branch managers, and 99 warehouse supervisors.

To date, the Office of the Ombudsman and the DA’s parallel investigating panel are conducting probes on the sale of NFA buffer stock rice which was allegedly disadvantageous to the government and was conducted without bidding.

The DA earlier said they would look at the NFA’s transactions as early as 2019. (PNA)