Batangas town mayor orders probe of P10-M rice purchase Featured

Batangas town mayor orders probe of P10-M rice purchase

SUBSTITUTE. Bags of rice stacked in the old city hall office to replace those being returned by residents. Photo from the Facebook page of the Tanauan City's Hope

BATANGAS, Philippines – Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili has formed a fact-finding committee to look into complaints on the quality of rice that the city government distributed to thousands of households during the Christmas holidays.

Under Administrative Order No. 1 Series of 2018, Halili appointed City Legal Officer Ferdinand Perez as chairman of the investigating team, which is tasked to submit an official report and make recommendations to the local chief executive on the issue.

“The Committee is hereby authorized to call upon any individuals and/or group of individuals, organizations, any department, bureau, office, agency or any instrumentality of the government, for all assistance or information as it may need in the performance of the duties and responsibilities reposed on it,” the order read.

The other members of the committee are Rebecca Javier of the Gender and Development Office, Jorge Valenzuela of the General Services Office, Lorna Cabrera of the City Social Welfare and Development Office, and Gina Juntilla of the City Accounting Office.

Halili said the creation of the committee stemmed from numerous complaints his office received on the poor quality of rice distributed to Tanauan residents under the city government's "Pamaskong Handog" program last Christmas.

He personally checked the rice and found it unacceptable.

Residents expressed their outrage on social media, criticizing the local government for supposedly considering the recipients as “patay gutom (destitute)” by distributing what they described as nearly inedible rice.

Halili’s office quickly contained the outrage through an announcement on December 29 that the supplier would replace the rice. City Information Officer Gerardo Laresma said the replacement process was still ongoing.

Laresma also confirmed that it was the General Services Office that procured the rice through the Bids and Awards Committee, and that the Senior Citizens Cooperative of Tanauan won the contract.

Under the P10.4-million “Pamaskong Handog” project, 5 kilos of rice were given to 42,000 households in the city.

Halili assured his constituents that he will not spare anyone, especially if it is established that there was connivance among officers involved in the procurement.

"There will be no whitewash. No sacred cow. The culpable will be dealt with accordingly," he said. – Rappler.com

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