Even Negros Occidental gov puzzled by fertilizer subsidy


THE SOUTHERN BEAT By Rolly Espina
Saturday, June 7, 2008

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Negros Occidental Gov. Isidro Zayco is himself at a loss on the guidelines of the fertilizer subsidies to farmers to help boost rice production and help push down the price of the staple in the province.

Local government units will reportedly identify the small farmers who can avail themselves of the rice subsidy.

The puzzle, according to Zayco, is that Negros Occidental is due to receive a total of P80 million in IRA differentials. But he does not know how the amount will be released.

“Earlier we were told that if we want to get the whole amount at once, it would be less 30 percent or only P56 million. But we would get the entire amount if we agree to avail ourselves of yearly releases over seven years,” Zayco explained.

In short, the Negros executive wants to clarify the source of funds for the LGUs for the rice subsidy program.

The question is, where will the 30 percent deduction of the lump sum go to?

That’s one thing which top government officials must answer. The Department of Agriculture, under the LGU fertilizer program, sets aside P500 from the DA and P1,000 from the LGU for the farmers.

These will be in terms of P250 coupons for each bag of fertilizer the farmers buy, he said.

Lucille Gaveolna said the LGUs will identify the prospective recipients. Some 11,500 small farmers in the province have availed themselves of subsidized fertilized seeds from the DA.

The fertilizer coupons will be released for the wet cropping season from May to October this year.

The LGU counterpart fund, according to Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya, is from the P12.5-billion IRA differentials from 2001 to 2004 which the President had ordered released.

Cops have their hands full

The police force of Negros Occidental has its hands full trying to unravel the torching of three delivery trucks of Tanduay Distillery Inc. at the Barcelona Port in Barangay Old Poblacion, Escalante City last Wednesday night.

Initial reports said 30 suspected New People’s Army rebels burned the delivery trucks because of the distillery’s failure to pay revolutionary taxes to the insurgents.

While the police seemed sure that the arsonists were NPA rebels, Col. Honorato de los Reyes, 303rd Infantry Brigade chief, wondered why some of the suspects wore bonnets. This is not the usual trademark of rebels, especially CPP-NPA members.

That threw a monkey’s wrench into the torching incident. If they were not NPA rebels, then the whole thing is a police matter.

Usually rebels do not wear bonnets when they are committing atrocities, Reyes pointed out.

The delivery trucks were reportedly en route to Cebu to transport Tanduay products when they were torched at the port owned by the Barcelona family. Among the owners of the small port is Escalante Vice Mayor May-May Barcelona, although it is managed by a brother.

The raiders, according to the police, mostly came on foot, while others were on board a pumpboat.

Escalante police chief Leonardo Angcon said some of the armed suspects withdrew from the scene on board a pumpboat.

Earlier, suspected rebels also torched two Tanduay delivery trucks in upland areas of Vallehermoso and Guihulngan in Negros Oriental. Two months ago, rebels also burned two transloading stations of the Victorias Milling Co. and Lopez Sugar Corp. in Toboso town, just adjacent to Escalante City.

Again the reason for that was the refusal of both firms to pay revolutionary taxes.

De los Reyes admitted the presence of legal fronts of the CPP-NPA in the coastal areas of Escalante.

The sequence of events tends to confirm suspicions that the group of 30 well-armed raiders must have been NPA members.

The question, however, is whether insurgents or not, the latest incident poses a challenge to both the police and the military to run the armed groups to the ground.

Escalante and its environs in northern Negros Occidental have been rocked by a series of violent incidents that seems to convince people in these areas that the NPA is still around and not yet contained by the military and the police. That presents a climate of uncertainty among the civilian population of the towns of Toboso and Calatrava and Escalante City as well as the upland areas of Sagay City.

But there is another side to the story. The Negros police has been tasked to be on the lookout for the two suspected killers of Ajuy, Iloilo Vice Mayor Ramon Rojas.

A P200,000 reward has been put up by the family and friends of Rojas for the arrest of the suspects who were last reported to have fled to northern Negros. The two guns-for-hire have been identified as Edgar Cordero and Dennis Cartagena.

Rojas was jogging with barangay chairman Ferdinand Nacional when he was gunned down. Nacional survived the ambush.

Iloilo police chief Ricardo de la Paz, who heads Task Force Rojas, was, prior to his new post, the police chief of San Carlos City.

Regional police chief Isagani Cuevas said police are still validating if the killing of Rojas was related to the intense political rivalry in Ajuy.

ADDENDUM: The provincial government, according to Gov. Zayco, is distributing rice to 57,513 day-care children throughout Negros Occidental under the food-for-school hunger mitigation program. Social welfare officer Liane Garcia said 402,591 kilograms of rice are to be given out to children in 25 towns and cities of the province. Kabankalan City tops the list with 51,051 kgs of rice for 7,293 children in day-care centers daily.

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