Fishers group pressed lawmakers to probe P 500-million money-making ops in DAR

“White papers” detailed alleged corruption in DAR
Fishers group pressed lawmakers to probe P 500-million money-making ops in DAR
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The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday asked lawmakers to investigate an alleged money making scheme involving money syndicate groups identified with the warring officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap chanced upon the “white papers” authored by a certain Timone Tumba in the internet which detailed how government officials suck out funds for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in guise of improving the lives of agrarian reform beneficiaries.

According to the white papers which were also circulated in e-mails, two separate letters dated January 30, 2007 were sent to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) both asking the budget agency to release P 500-million for CARP related projects.

The first letter signed by an agrarian reform official requested for the release of National Cash Allotment or NCA for pump priming projects under CARP, and the second letter, signed by another DAR top official requested the release of Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) also for pump priming projects under the 20-year old agrarian reform program.

The DAR official who requested for SARO attached a list of project areas for the implementation of the pump priming projects with corresponding amount of project cost. The
P 500-million CARP fund requested would be utilized for selected municipalities in region IV-A and two municipalities in Bulacan.

The SARO No. E-06-10436 with an amount of P 500-million was actually issued on December 28, 2006 by DBM for the purpose of “to cover requirements of pump-priming projects under CARP and charged against the general automatic appropriations for Republic Act 6657 and Executive Order 228.

The “white papers” said a copy of the SARO was already released to DAR in mid-January and that the DBM was surprise to receive two letters of the same date from two agrarian reform officials.

The “white papers” said the
P 500-million CARP funds went to agrarian reform official who requested the NCA and got hold of the money in February and as of March 2007 has already sent P200 million to ARMM, P200 million to different politicos under the Lakas-CMD-UMDJ and Kampi, and P100 million as personal reward.

Meanwhile in the municipalities of Teresa, Baras, and Tanay, all in Rizal province, the favored contractor started working on the “regravelling” project, of which the amount involved is a staggering P 47 million for the project.

However, in a PARC Memorandum signed by a Director dated June 14, 2007 for the DAR official with CARP pump-priming projects in Region IV-A and Bulacan, the document showed that the SARO E-06-10436 has already been programmed for priority projects nationwide, including Region 4A.

According to the “white papers” a letter was sent on August 16, 2007 by the construction firm to Secretary Rolando Andaya seeking for the release of funds representing the amounts which they were made to believe were covered by CARP priority programs and SARO E-06-10436.

On August 17, 2007, the DAR official who outdid his colleague official sent another formal letter to the DBM Secretary requesting for P750 million allocation again for pump priming.

The “white papers” further said there were more damning revelations of SAROs and NCAs proliferating around supposedly for CARP pump-priming projects. These SAROs and NCAs were dangled to LGUs and favored contractors who would agree to provide the DAR mafias “advance commissions”.

“The white papers said aside from the SARO E-06-10436 (P500M) stated in an earlier paper, another SARO was issued on December 29, 2006 (SARO No. E-06-10435) worth P347M broken down as P197M for MOOE and P150M for Capital Outlays. A Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA-BMB-E-07-0000395) for P150 Million was subsequently issued. Curiously, based on documents at hand, there were two sets of “annexes” with different sites of project implementation using the same amount of P150M and referring to the same NCA with DBM barcode encryption.

“These white papers circulating in e-mails and internet should be taken seriously. What if the allegations are true? Those involved in the money-making syndicates in DAR should be held accountable for plundering public funds,” Pamalakaya’s Hicap added.

The Pamalakaya leader said the Senate should further pursue its investigation of DAR Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, who last year was grilled by the Senate during a deliberation of the agrarian reform budget over the release of P 200 million in CARP funds to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which is not covered by the agrarian reform law.

“The writing on the wall is clear. The P 200-million CARP fund for ARMM is another scam. The government is even using this bogus land reform program to corrupt public funds. This is absolutely ridiculous, totally mind boggling and grossly reprehensible. Imagine P 200 million of taxpayers’ money were illegally diverted to meet the corrupt agenda of Malacañang. CARP is not only anti-farmer, it has also become an instrument for wholesale plunder of public funds,” the Pamalakaya leader added. .

“The Senate must explore the connection of this illegal diversion of P 200 million in CARP funds to the reported P 500-million CARP fund scam in DAR,” Hicap added.

The questionable release of P 200 million CARP funds was first raised by opposition Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. who asked Senator Gregorio Honasan, Chair of the Senate Committee on Agrarian Reform to investigate the alleged illegal diversion of CARP funds to ARMM, which is not covered by the agrarian reform law.

Pamalakaya, one of the groups supporting the passage of Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 3059, said under the bill, free distribution of land to landless, land-lacking and willing to till farmers will be ensured with enough guarantees for security of tenure and support services, aside from preventing high crimes of corruption in DAR bureaucracy. #

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