MANILA, Philippines – A group wants Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and other agriculture officials sacked following a Commission on Audit (COA) report that their department has yet to account for a total of P1.18 billion ($26.67 million) in government funds.
The funds were sourced from the now-defunct Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers from 2005 to 2013.
Party-list group Anakpawis said the funds were likely misused by the Department of Agriculture (DA). COA had previously reported that DA-attached agencies had downloaded funds to bogus non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
“While hundreds of thousands of rural folks were being denied of financial aid and adequate social services, it is revolting in the highest level that billions of pesos worth of government funds have been misused by corrupt government officials in the DA in connivance with private individuals like Janet Napoles," said Anakpawis partly-list Representative Fernando Hicap.
The group added that the recent COA report is "enough basis" to file charges against Alcala and other officials. (READ: Alcala: Those hurt by agri reforms linking me to pork scam)
DA-attached agencies failed to liquidate the PDAF releases they received. COA said they should now be able to do so because the projects should already have been implemented.
Agencies with that have yet to account for a total of P1.18 billion in disbursed funds include the National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor), National Agricultural and Fishery Council (NAFC), and Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC).
Four NGOs have also yet to account for P12.78 million in funds.
Hicap said that the fact that Alcala is still in the Aquino cabinet "is only the reflection of the Aquino government’s contrast to its daang matuwid (straight path) slogan."
"This proves that deep party alliance and personal relationship is thicker than public interest," he said.
In a reply to the COA report, the DA said it had already sent letters to the concerned agencies and NGOs asking for the liquidation.
Lawmakers' pork barrel was abolished after public outrage over an elaborate scheme where lawmakers allegedly connived with private individuals to steal public funds through ghost projects of bogus NGOs. – Rappler.com