by Chocolate Hills dela Fuente and Bb. Joyce Cabral
Manila, Philippines-The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday urged the electoral public in the 3rd district of Bohol to challenge the unopposed congressional bid of Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, saying the congressional district deserves a better person rather than stick with a protégé of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“He is not the man for the job. Secretary Yap is part of the money making syndicate in Malacanang and voting him as congressman of the 3rd district is like paying homage to the never ending plunder campaign of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.
The Pamalakaya leader issued the statement in reaction to news reports that Sec. Yap will run unopposed congressional candidate in the 3rd district of Bohol, Earlier, there was this speculation that Yap will face incumbent Rep. Adam Relson Jala or his father former congressman Eladio Jala in the congressional race, but the young Jala, who is eligible to run for re-election filed his certificate of candidacy for the gubernatorial race, leaving Yap unopposed.
The elder Jala, currently assistant secretary at the Department of Transportation and Communications, was rumored to have been offered a post at the Securities and Exchange Commission, but he has declined to issue any statement on the matter.
Both Yap and the Jalas were members of the ruling Lakas-Kampi. “It seems there is a gentleman’s agreement between Yap and the Jalas as brokered by Malacanang,” said Hicap.
Pamalakaya said Secretary Yap was recently implicated and charged in violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Republic Act 9184 or the Procurement Law before the Office of the Ombudsman for allowing an attached agency—the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) to procure 98 units of ice-making machines for fishery products which are overpriced by 100 percent compared to the standard price set by industry market.
The group recalled the department’s purchase of 98 units of ice-making machines, which the group said was overpriced by P 2.3 million. Pamalakaya said the agriculture department through the NABCOR awarded the government contract to a lone bidder—the Integrated Refrigeration System and Services (IRSS) on September 2, 2009, which will sell the ice-making unit at
P 4,650,000 per unit, or about P 2.3 million higher compared to prevailing industry price for the ice-making machine.
“Imagine a congressional candidate with this track record of corruption seeking to be called honorable representative of the third district of Bohol. Secretary Yap should immediate revoke the contract if he wants to gain respect and support of the electoral public. The deal which he had sealed for approval upon the order of higher ups is highly disadvantageous to the taxpaying public. Imagine we will pay more than P 233 million of hard-earned taxpayers’ money to the preferred client of Malacanang. This is too much and super corruption to the highest order,” said Pamalakaya.
The Pamalakaya said the government through DA will pay IRSS the sum of P 455,700,000 for 98 units of ice-making machines with liquid freeze capability which will be supplied to selected municipal fish ports nationwide. But the group said the government can obtain 98 units of ice-making machines for P 225 million to P 230 million, or half of the quoted and agreed price with IRSS.
“P 225 million is P 225 million. That sum of money can be used to finance any kind of sinister agenda or cruel intention by the present power holders in and out of Malacanang. The money might also be used to finance the electoral campaign of Mrs. Arroyo’s national and local bets like Secretary Yap. This is money making in aid of electoral campaign for 2010 polls,” added Hicap.
The group said Secretary Yap is lawfully and morally bound to explain why the agriculture department entered into a contract that is disadvantageous to the government and to the Filipino public.
“Do we really need these ice-making machines? Our fisherfolk members all over the country were not even consulted on these projects, but these ice-making machines had already their icing on the cake status as far DA and its’ favored contractor are concerned. Secretary Yap owes the public a honest-to-goodness explanation, nothing more, nothing less,” said Pamalakaya.
According to information gathered by Pamalakaya, NABCOR conducted a preliminary bidding last August 26, and IRSS which won the bidding, was only incorporated on August 25, a day before the preliminary bidding was conducted.
The group said under Republic Act 9184 (Procuring Law), Section 37.1, the bidder must submit a copy of its single largest completed contract over the past 3 years, and such condition is impossible for IRSS, which was only incorporated on August 25, this year, a day before the preliminary bidding. The contract was finally awarded last Sept.2.
The militant group threatened to file a plunder case against Secretary Yap and other officials of NABCOR if they fail to cancel the contract with IRSS in connection with the corruption tainted procurement of 98 units of ice-making machines pegged at P 4.6 million per unit.