DA official to critic: Bring allegations to proper forum


by Robertzon F. Ramirez, Jing Villamente And James Konstantin Galvez Reporters

Jan. 17 2014





Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala on Friday has challenged his detractors to air their charges against him in the proper forum instead of resorting to trial publicity.


He issued the statement after Argee Guevarra, president of the Sanlakas party-list group, claimed the monopoly of rice imports by the Department of Agriculture (DA) favor the rice cartel of an alleged “Quezon mafia’’.


Alcala is a former two term congressman representing the second district of Quezon province. The DA chief dared Guevarra to sue him if indeed a Quezon mafia existed.


Despite Alcala’s denial of the existence of the “Quezon mafia’’, Guevarra vowed to expose its members after having completed the gathering of vital information.


DA Undersecretary and spokesman Emerson Palad said the DA is saddened by the “seemingly incessant barrage of malicious and wrongful accusations and insinuations hurled by Guevarra against Alcala and the NFA.


“We urge Atty. Gueverra to bring his allegations to the proper forum so these could be addressed accordingly,” Palad said in a statement.


“Secretary Alcala maintains innocence in all of Atty. Guevarra’s baseless claims, and does not allow these issues to hamper his day-to-day activities for the sake of our clientele — the Filipino farmers and fishers,” he added.


Guevarra had filed a plunder complaint against Alcala and NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag in December before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly pocketing P457.2 million from a P4.1-billion rice importation deal with Vietnam during the early months of 2013.


In a 10-page criminal complaint, Guevarra also accused Alcala and Calayag of violating various provisions of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act by entering into what he called a manifestly and grossly disadvantageous contract.


Meanwhile, the Alyansa Agrikultura and RI scored the alleged release of 167 containers of smuggled rice citing that the Bureau of Customs (BOC) insistence that this was in compliance with a court order from the Davao City Regional Trial Court.


The Alyansa Agrikultura is a fisherfolk-farmer coalition of 42 federations from the agricultural sector while RI is a rice watch and action network focusing on rice.


In a joint statement, the two groups claimed that the government has rewarded rice smugglers while punishing the poor farmers as they were deprived of their livelihood.


They noted that the injunction in the Davao court was also done in Manila and the Batangas Regional Trial Courts setting a dangerous trend that makes a mockery of the goal of inclusive growth.


Since the motion for reconsideration (MR) filed by the BOC is still pending, Alyansa Agrikultura and RI sad that the agency should stop the release of the smuggled rice containers.






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