Philippine officials suspended over rice scandal hinh anh 1The Philippines has grappled with high rice prices. (Photo:
Hanoi (VNA) - The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the preventive suspension of the National Food Authority (NFA) head and 138 other officials and employees for their alleged involvement in a sale of rice buffer stocks, Philippine Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel said on March 4.

Minister Laurel said the suspension started on March 4 while an investigation is underway on the accusations.

An NFA official has accused several agency executives of improperly disposing of rice buffer stocks without bidding, and at a price allegedly disadvantageous to the government. The NFA executives deny any impropriety, affirming the sale followed procedures.

The controversy erupted as the Philippines grappled with high rice prices. The country has struggled to lower the rice prices despite an ample supply of the national staple.

Rice prices rose 22.6% in January from 19.6% in December 2023, the highest since March 2009 - the time when rice inflation hit 22.9%./.