'Alcala used agri funds for son's gubernatorial bid'

MANILA, Philippines – Things are getting worse for Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala.

Facing two plunder complaints for various offenses and named in a state audit report as a possible beneficiary of pork barrel kickbacks, he is named respondent in another complaint to be filed with the Ombudsman on Friday, January 24.

He is accused of malversation of funds and violation of election laws when he allegedly used his department's money to bankroll the gubernatorial bid of his son, Irvin Alcala, in Quezon province in 2013.

In the 18-page draft of the criminal and administrative complaint, petitioner Argee Guevarra of the party-list group Sanlakas, says: "The Community Organizers and volunteers [in Irvin's campaign] are paid by the various attached agencies of the DA in Quezon [that were] functioning as a partisan political organization designed to support the bid of all his relatives who ran in the province of Quezon."

Irvin lost to David Suarez, son of long-time congressman and House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez. The older Suarez has been in and out the congressional post in Quezon's 3rd District since 1992.

Guevarra's complaint cites as evidence the "massive" and abnormal increase in the issuance of job orders by the DA regional field unit (RFU) during the election season. Alcala allegedly directed his regional directors and all attached DA agencies in the province to support the gubernatorial bid of his son.

"The RFUs and other attached agencies are paying the salaries of these election-hired employees, most of whom are considered ghost employees who are assigned during the campaign of his son," reads the complaint.

Guevarra regards the alleged diversion of funds as a "reprise of the Fertilizer Fund Scam," wherein former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo allegedly used government funds for her 2004 presidential bid. The funds were meant as state subsidy for farmers' fertilizers. 

Links to pork barrel scam

The plunder complaint to be filed Friday also cites the DA chief's "pattern of violating" recommendations from the Commission on Audit (COA). It outlines a "history of corruption" in the affairs of state firm National Agri-Business Corporation (Nabcor) under the DA, as previously reported by COA. 

State auditors have said the biggest chunk of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or the pork barrel of lawmakers were coursed through Nabcor over the last several years.

In its special audit report on the PDAF, the audit agency listed the older Alcala – when he was congressman of Quezon – as one of the lawmakers whose PDAF were channeled to fake NGOs of alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.

At least P1.35 billion in pork barrel have been misused through Nabcor, based on state audits. The audits cover 5 years spanning both the Arroyo and Aquino administrations, from 2007 to 2011.

Alcala has previously admitted that he failed to stop P39 million in PDAF coursed through his department from going to Napoles NGOs

Militant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas filed in October 2013 plunder complaints against Alcala, President Benigno Aquino III, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, and 10 others for their alleged links to the pork barrel scam.

Alcala has denied any involvement in the PDAF scam. – Rappler.com