Gov’t to let go 839 NFA employees

Agriculture secretary Emmanuel "Manny" Piñol

MANILA – Some 839 employees of the National Food Authority’s (NFA) 4,000-strong workforce will be retired this month in line with the agency’s restructuring, as stipulated in the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 11203, or the Rice Tariffication Law.

“There will be a reduction of about 839 (NFA) employees mainly in regulatory and enforcement departments, others have opted to stay, (while) others have opted to retire,” said Agriculture secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Piñol said the regulatory and enforcement positions of the agency have been removed with the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law and there was also a clustering of provincial offices.

In almost all cases, he said it would be three provinces to a cluster.

Piñol said there was a suggestion from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to further trim down the number of employees by clustering the NFA regional offices.

But, he said majority of the members of the NFA Council during the meeting today (May 21) agreed to just wait for the result of the independent study commissioned for the restructuring of the NFA before taking further measures.

The result of the independent study is set to be released by December this year.

Under Rule 3.4 of the IRR, a transition period of “at most 60 days” is allotted to implement NFA’s reorganization to suit its new function.

NFA was given 30 days to submit its Restructuring and Reorganization Plan to the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG) for review and approval within 30 days.

“We are now in the homestretch of our reorganization, which we are doing within the timeframe given to us,” said NFA officer-in-charge Tomas R. Escarez.

The NFA Council, during the meeting, approved the restructuring plan and will be submitted to the GCG on May 23 for their review and approval.

Piñol said the Council have submitted two options for compensation package which will be decided by the GCG and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

The first option is the compensation package stipulated in the IRR, of which an NFA employee will receive 1.5 months for every year of service.

However, the DA chief said the NFA employees pointed out that there is a law which covered the compensation package for former employees of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) who were displaced in the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Law, which gives two months for every year of service.

“They (NFA employees) are citing that law, so the Council decided to just give both options to DBM and GCG to decide,” he said.

Meanwhile, Piñol said it was also decided during the NFA Council meeting that the agency will conduct a “surgical” marketing operations.

“We will continue releasing NFA rice to the market at PHP27 a kilo as directed by the President (Rodrigo Duterte) even after we have consumed our imported rice stocks,” he said.

“The President wants for the poor to still have access to low-priced good quality rice,” he added.

Piñol said NFA’s market participation will also only be 10 percent, “meaning we will not operate in areas when there is a surplus of rice stocks.”

He said the focus of this marketing strategy would be in Metro Manila and net importing provinces especially island provinces, including the 40 identified areas with high poverty incidence. (PNA)


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