Militants say new plunder case against Arroyo not a harassment

By Bombshell Moran and Trinity Biglang Awa, The Pamalakaya Times correspondents

Manila, Philippines-The leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday slammed Palace economic adviser Gary Olivar for dismissing the plunder case which its leaders will file on Monday against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap as “ideologically-ridden harassment”

“What harassment? Who’s harassing who? Is the search for truth, justice and accountability a crime of political harassment? This paid spokesman of Malacanang is grossly engaged in classical and traditional Red bashing adventure,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

Olivar on New Year’s Day said the plunder case which Pamalakaya and party list group Anakpawis will file against President Arroyo and Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap on Monday is outlandish and in the form of ideologically driven harassment against the President.

The Palace spokesperson for economic affairs said Pamalakaya, Anakpawis and other critics of President Arroyo are trying to cultivate bashing as a cottage industry and their principal source of livelihood. But he said, Mrs. Arroyo will apparently grin and bear the broadsides and lawsuits between now and t hen when she steps down after a nine-year term beset by scandals of corruption and electoral fraud.

The plunder case which will be filed on Monday stemmed from the P 455-million overpriced ice-making machines which the government procured through the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Agribusiness Council (NABCOR). According to Pamalakaya and Anakpawis, the government bought 98 units of ice-making on September last year at P 4.6 million per unit, while industry standard pegs the price at P 2.3 million per unit.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap said the President should be charged together with Yap and other agriculture officials of plunder under the principle of command responsibility. “President Arroyo is the author, the judge and the executioner of the P 455 million ice making machines scam and therefore it is only legally and politically correct for her to be charged with plunder along with her money making personnel at the agriculture department,” Hicap explained.

Hicap, also the fisherfolk representative in Anakpawis party list national council, said the agriculture department and NABCOR awarded the government contract to a lone bidder—the Integrated Refrigeration System and Services (IRSS) on September 2, 2009, which will provide 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.

The Pamalakaya official said the government 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 in 2010 elections. This is money making in aid of electoral campaign for 2010 polls,” added Hicap.

According to information gathered by Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list, 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 groups 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.

Aside from Secretary Yap, Pamalakaya said it will include in the plunder charge sheet the top officials of NABCOR namely Alan A. Javellana, President; Romulo A. Relevo, Chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee; Dennis Lozada, Winston Azucena, Melody de Guzman and Encarnita Cristina Munsod, all members of Bids and Awards Committee, and owners and operators of IRSS. #

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