On the job for barely three months, National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Arthur Juan has turned in his irrevocable resignation, citing “failing health conditions.”
Francis Pangilinan, the presidential assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization, revealed Juan’s resignation in a press statement on Friday.
Pangilinan said Juan submitted his resignation on Thursday afternoon.
The statement did not provide details on the 68-year-old NFA chief’s health problems.
The resignation came amid allegations that Juan tried to extort P15 million from a rice trader.
Pangilinan maintained that 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 said.
Juan first asked to resign on August 15, when the controversy fanned by the alleged extortion attempt broke, but Pangilinan talked him into staying on.
In a sworn statement to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Purefeeds owner Jomerito Soliman said Juan demanded P15 million in exchange for dropping hoarding charges against him and reopening his warehouse, which was raided by authorities led by Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd in July.
Soliman said Roxas, Pangilinan and Juan were to get P5 million each.
Juan denied the allegations and said he offered to resign out of delicadeza [sense of propriety].
He was appointed on June 24 by President Benigno Aquino 3rd as NFA Council member and administrator.
Before his appointment, Juan was president of Monterey Foods Corp. and then of San Miguel Foods Inc., the food division of San Miguel Corp.
An NFA source said a member of the NFA Council deferred the acceptance of Juan’s resignation while the grains agency completed the awarding of a contract for a government-to-government contract involving 500,000 metric tons of rice.
The source added that there was continuing pressure for Juan to quit over the alleged extortion attempt.
Pangilinan said he would take over the NFA as officer-in-charge.
In a speech he was supposed to deliver during the NFA’s 42nd anniversary on Friday, Juan hinted about his resignation, describing his three-month stint as more like “three years.”
He was not able to attend the anniversary rites.
With a report from James Konstantin Galvez