Group wants probe into irregularities in DA, says Yap accountable
- Sophia Dedace, GMANews.TV

Article posted September 16, 2008


http://www.gmanews. tv/story/ 120704/Group- wants-probe- into-irregularit ies-in-DA- says-Yap- accountable#

MANILA, Philippines – Food security advocates on Tuesday said Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap should be held responsible for irregularities in the agricultural sector, even as he passed the culpability on to local officials for the P218.7 million Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) rice program mess.

In a statement, the Task Force Food Sovereignty said that Yap is not yet off the hook as his office is liable for a host of other irregularities which were uncovered by the Commission on Audit.

With the COA findings, the group said an independent investigation should be conducted on the DA.

“Secretary Yap cannot absolve himself of the culpability in the mess, based on at least six COA observations. An investigation by an independent body, excluding Secretary Yap, is urgently needed," said TFFS secretary Arze Glipo.

In the statement, the group outlined the observations by the COA noting irregularities in several programs directly attributed to Yap ’s office, including:

• The Post Harvest Facilities projects implemented by National Agri-business Corporation for lack information, for failure to submit liquidation reports, where confirmation notes remain unanswered. Cost: P300 million;

• The Enhanced Website Electronic Sanitary and Phytosanitary Certification System project which was not pursued posing imminent obsolescence of the softwares and hardware.. Cost: P29.42 Million;

• Posters and pamphlets that remain undistributed. Cost: P0.25 million;

• The existing guidelines on the utilization of Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) did not provide for maximum limit for public investment allowing the DA to release grant totaling P725 Million to NABCOR and Bureau of Post-Harvest Research and Extension, at the expense of loan proponents who are legitimate beneficiaries of the fund. Cost: P725 million;

• A circuitous and unnecessary transfer of funds from regular and pork barrel funds to NABCOR, as conduit for proposed projects, which the unliquidated fund transfers accumulated to P1.067 billion. Cost: P724.26 million; and

• The Gender and Development Funds were either unutilized or charged for activities not aligned with the GAD platform. Cost: P47.24 million.

To recall, Yap on Monday said that the rice program mess should be attributed to the local government units, citing that anomalies could be embedded on the devolution of agricultural services to LGUs.

Glipo, however, said their network is not surprised with the recent mess at the agriculture department.

“The COA report is long in coming. Farmers have known all along this rice scam because they have not been receiving the supposed subsidies for seeds and fertilizers. The COA has just confirmed this fact," Glipo said.






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