Manila, Philippines – Some residents here returned the rice packs they received from the provincial government after they discovered that these were infested with “bukbok” (weevil).
At least 108 packs of rice had been returned to the barangay hall of Moto Norte here since Friday.
Willou Tan, village chief of Moto Norte, said they were told by personnel of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) that they would replace the rice on Monday.
Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto ordered provincial administrator Alfonso “Ae” Damalerio, PSWDO chief Mita Tecson and provincial legal officer Mitchell John Boiser to look into the incident.
Chatto said he called the National Food Authority (NFA)-Bohol manager, Maria Fe Evasco, to shed light on the issue, and was assured that the rice supplied to the province was of good quality.
But he told the PSWDO to replace the rice packs that were infested with bukbok.
The packs were distributed in Loon during the HEAT caravan, a flagship project of the governor aimed at reducing poverty.
HEAT stands for Health and Sanitation, Education and Technology, Agriculture and Food Security, and Tourism and Livelihood.
In Moto Norte, the village got 294 packs containing 4.5 kilograms of rice, four cans of sardines and four cans of beef loaf.
Tan said residents were surprised when they found that the rice they received was dark in color (brownish to black), smelly and with weevils.
He said some residents, who did not return the packs, gave the rice to their animals.
Others decided to cook and eat it even if it smelled bad.
Not all residents received bad rice, Tan said, adding that at least 10 households got good quality stocks.
Residents in other villages in Loon also complained of the weevil-infested rice received from the province. Some posted their complaints on social media.
Loon Mayor Elvi Peter Relampagos said the infested rice could be replaced with good quality stocks. “Why make it a big deal?” he asked.
Evasco said the rice distributed during the HEAT caravan in Loon was “free of any weevil.”
She said the province bought 40,000 sacks from the NFA office while the Loon government bought 112 sacks for repacking.
“Let me assure the public that the rice varieties, which we are selling in all our accredited outlets in Bohol, are all bukbok-free,” she said.
Volunteer groups that repacked the NFA bags for distribution in Loon also said the rice was of good quality.
In Nueva Ecija province, a team from the National Bureau of Investigation and the NFA found no evidence of rice hoarding when it started inspecting warehouses on Monday.
Pedro Roque Jr., lead agent of the NBI Cabanatuan district office, said the team randomly selected warehouses in San Leonardo town and Science City of Muñoz.
Victor del Rosario II, a local miller and rice importer, said his warehouse, which could store 100,000 bags, had an inventory of 7,000 bags.
He said they continued to supply the market truckloads of rice despite the fact that imported rice had been stuck at the Port of Manila.
Genoveva Villar, NFA provincial manager, said their inventory showed 1.4 million bags of rice in commercial traders, 600,000 bags in various households and 17,000 bags in NFA warehouses in Nueva Ecija.
She said the 2.1 million bags were sufficient for 140 days based on estimated daily consumption of 15,200 bags.