ROXAS SAYS Agri funds misuse continues post-Bolante Roxas urges probe post-harvest funds


INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:47:00 12/27/2008

Filed Under: Graft & Corruption, Agriculture, Joc-joc Bolante

MANILA, Philippines — The alleged misuse of agriculture funds continues in the Department of Agriculture even after its former undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante left the agency, Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas said Saturday.

“Hindi nagtapos ang pangungurakot noong umalis si Joc-Joc sa DA. Itinuloy ng administrasyon ni Pangulong Arroyo ang maling paggamit ng pera ng taumbayan at nakita sa imbesigasyon na umabot ang kalokohan sa NABCOR (The corrupt practices didn’t end with Joc-Joc’s departure from the DA. The administration of President Arroyo continued its misuse of the people’s money and investigation showed it spread to NABCOR),” the Liberal Party president said in a press statement.

Bolante is linked to the P728-million fertilizer fund scam; the money intended for farmers’ fertilizer allegedly went instead into the campaign of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004.

Citing the 2007 report of the Commission on Audit, Roxas said some P300 million was disbursed by the DA for acquisition of post-harvest facilities, but these could not be validated by the auditing agency.

On top of this, he said, P95.167 million of post-harvest projects purchased by Nabcor were not used by farmers for being inapplicable and outmoded.

The 2007 CoA report also showed that P734.255 million was transferred from the DA to Nabcor, which in turn charged a 10-percent administrative fee when handing these to nongovernmental organizations and people’s organizations, thus reducing the amount benefiting these groups.

Aside from these alleged anomalies, the DA had taken P225.22 million from the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund and transferred this to the Nabcor for the implementation of a “Competitive Food Processing and Cold Chain Operation” project, despite Nabcor’s insufficient capability and manpower to carry this out.

“Hindi pwede na basta-basta ang ganitong paglipat ng pondo mula sa DA papuntang Nabcor at mga iba’t ibang grupo. Kailangan natin ng accountability at transparency dito (We can’t simply allow these fund transfers from the DA to Nabcor and other groups. We need accountability and transparency here),” he said.

Roxas said he has filed Senate Resolution 824 to look into the transactions of Nabcor which the Commission on Audit had found to be anomalous.

“Kung gusto nating gumanda ang buhay ng ating mga magsasaka at pakainin ang bawat Pilipino, siguraduhin muna natin na wasto ang paggamit ng pondo ng gobyerno (If we want to raise our agriculture sector and feed every Filipino, we have to ensure the proper use of government funds),” he said.

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