MANILA — Presidential Adviser on Food Security and Agriculture Modernization Secretary Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Friday confirmed the resignation of National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Arthur O. Juan from his post.
Juan’s resignation came a day before the celebration of the 42nd anniversary of the food agency and amid an unresolved “extortion” issue as claimed by a grains dealer.
“It is with regret and sadness that we received yesterday afternoon (Sept. 25) the irrevocable resignation of Mr. Art Juan as National Food Authority administrator. He cited failing health as the reason for his stepping down,” said Pangilinan in a statement.
Malacanang appointed Juan as NFA administrator on June 23, 2014. Barely two months after (August), he tendered his first resignation when the controversy over the alleged extortion surfaced, but was rejected by Pangilinan.
The food security czar had raised the possibility that the allegation of extortion was the machination of an “influential” party whose powerful toes he had stepped on in the campaign to clean up the agency.
“I continue to believe he (Juan) is innocent of the charges brought against him. This is a temporary setback in our reform efforts and it will not stop us from pursuing sweeping reforms in the NFA and the rice trade in the country,” he noted.
Pangilinan said the NFA Council will decide on Tuesday (Sept. 30) on who will be appointed as officer-in-charge of the food agency pending the processing of a permanent appointment to the post.
He said he already informed President Benigno S. Aquino III on the resignation of Juan.
“I informed the President early this morning and he replied saying that we will meet as soon as possible to discuss and decide the next steps,” said Pangilinan.
Meanwhile, in his message on the 42nd anniversary of the NFA today, which was posted at the NFA website, Juan said: “To this day, making the NFA rice always available and affordable remains a tough responsibility and a great challenge. To me, this is the heart of our mandate. Nothing would best describe this mandate than to assure our people that their staple food is within their reach at all times and under all circumstances.”
“As we celebrate our 42nd year as a corporate family, we reiterate our commitment through meaningful reforms that aim for satisfactory savings and respectable earnings for the agency, greater private sector participation, less importation in favor of intensified local procurement, farmer empowerment, and, of course, availability of rice during man-made and natural calamities. Whatever situations we are in right now, we have every reason to celebrate and fill the air with positive thoughts for our agency,” he added.