Probe of Nabcor questionable deals sought

By Bb. Joyce Cabral

Manila, Philippines-Leftwing militants belonging to Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and Anakpawis party list on Thursday urged lawmakers from both chambers of Congress to investigate the unchecked and questionable operations of National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) after it found out that in 2007, the Commission on Audit (COA) reported that the Department of Agriculture (DA) attached agency was responsible for the highly irregular procurement of post harvest facilities amounting to P 300 million during the year.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap, one of the complainants in the plunder complaint filed against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Secretary Arthur Yap and officials of NABCOR in connection with the P 455 million ice making machines scam said in 2007, based on COA report, NABCOR projects could not be validated due to lack of information on the status of project implementation.

Hicap said part of the findings include the P95.67 million worth were outmoded, unserviceable, incomplete, missing or simply of no practical use to the recipient farmers. “Secretary Yap, his apologists and talking parrots inside DA and NABCOR are saying that all the transactions in the procurement of post harvest facilities are transparent and aboveboard, but the COA findings reveal the exact opposite,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

“It seems to us that Nabcor has been engaged in money making activity under the Macapagal-Arroyo administration, and it is shielded by its nature and orientation as a government-owned and controlled corporation free from financial audit and public scrutiny,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente recalled that in 2008, Nabcor got involved in a national scandal involving 1.4 million hectares of Philippine farmlands that the DA had committed to the Chinese government for the latter’s use in connection with its food program. The deal was billed as a giant step to modernize the countryside, the deal would allow China to develop the 1.4 million hectares into a modern food-farm complex. But the purpose, according to Clemente, was to serve as a major food source for the province of Heilongjiang, which had foreseen a horrendous food shortage occurring in China.

The deal is supposed to be part of the controversial NBN-ZTE deal was aborted due to the strong protest lodged by anti-corruption watchdogs.

Last Wednesday, Pamalakaya and Anakpawis leaders led by party list Reps. Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod and Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente charged President Arroyo, Sec. Yap and 13 others with plunder and criminal and administrative suits before the Office of the Ombudsman.

In their 16-page plunder complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, complainants said President Arroyo, Sec. Yap and officials of National Agribusiness Council (NABCOR), members of Awards and Bids Committee and owners and operators of Integrated Refrigeration Service System (IRRS) violated Republic Act 7080 or the Anti-Violation Plunder Law, Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act for grave misconduct.

The complainants said the agriculture department through 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.

“We will not allow this icing on the cake ice making machines scam to proceed. We will pursue this case in the Office of the Ombudsman, we will write lawmakers to investigate this latest raiding of taxpayers’ money, we will ask the Supreme Court to stop this plunder adventure of Arroyo and Yap and will aggressively explore the parliament of the street to demand truth, justice and accountability,” they said.

“We will even ask and appeal to the Chinese community in Ongpin and Binondo to denounce and disown this Chinese bureaucrat capitalist in the person of Secretary Yap for tarnishing the names of the Filipino-Chinese businessmen who want fair play and conduct honest-to-goodness business in the country,” said Pamalakaya.

Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list asserted that the P 455- million ice making machine scam is chiefly authored by President Arroyo and members of the syndicate operating in and out of Malacanang and in and out of the agriculture department and that Secretary Yap performed his role to the hilt as the lead actor in this newest high crime of corruption orchestrated by the ruling Mafia in the Palace.

As agreed by parties to contract, 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 complainants 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.

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.

Prior to the filing of the plunder complaint, businessman Allan V. Ragasa, a complainant had filed charges against Sec. Yap and officials of NABCOR and officers of IRSS headed by its chairman Alexander Leung before the Office of the Ombudsman in relation to the questionable awarding of contract to IRSS. The complaint in violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and RA 9184 was filed on Nov.18, 2009. #

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