Alcala's chief of staff denies receiving bribe

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014


THE chief of staff of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala denied on Tuesday the allegation hurled by Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (PAFSAM) Secretary Francis Pangilinan against him that he received a bribe, along with former National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Orlan Calayag, to favor a cargo handler for rice imported from Vietnam in 2013.

"The accusation is that we favored the cargo handler Avega Bros. Integrated Shipping Corp. in exchange for which we received a bribe equivalent to US$3 per metric ton. This is baseless and malicious. I vehemently deny the accusation," lawyer Dennis Guerrero said.

Rice importations under Calayag until his courtesy resignation in May this year, have already been scrutinized by the Senate, Congress and the National Bureau of Investigation and were found to be aboveboard, he said.

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Guerrero was NFA Special Assistant to the Administrator before being tapped as Chief of Staff by Alcala three months ago.

However, Guerrero also announced that he was taking a leave of absence from his post as Alcala's Chief of Staff "to spare the Secretary from this brouhaha," and added that he was aware "that there are many forces who might think of taking advantage of this situation to force the Secretary's ouster."

"I have not seen another person who takes the interest of our farmers and fishermen more than he (Alcala) does. He would be a sorry loss for the administration if he would be unjustly dragged in this situation," Guerrero said.

He said Pangilinan has not offered any proof that there was any pay-off and relies only on one unfounded circumstance, in connection with the 205,000 metric tons MT transaction in April 2013.

"He (Secretary Pangilinan) relies solely on one circumstance, the fact of which is unfounded-- that in connection with the 205,000 metric ton (MT) transaction in April 2013, the National Food Authority unjustly and illegally forced Vietnam Southern Food Corporation (Vinafood II) to accept Avega Bros as subcontractor of DYS Seair Worldwide Inc. (DYS) for cargo handling notwithstanding the fact that DYS already contracted the services from Vinafood II," he added.

"We did not force Vinafood II to accept Avega Bros. to undertake cargo handling services for the former. We were constrained however to intercede following difficulty in transacting with DYS," Guerrero said. (SDR/Sunnex)

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