By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Sugar Hicap and Lollipop delos Reyes
Manila, Philippines- Complainants to the plunder case filed against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Agriculture secretary Arthur Yap and officials of National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor) in connection with the controversial P 455 million overpriced ice-making machines project said the government through the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor) will purchase 300 more units of ice-making machines at the same overpriced rate of P 4.6 million per unit or roughly P 1.5 billion in taxpayers’ money.
Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said an insider from agriculture department told him that the government is scheduled to purchase 300 more units of ice-making machines in addition to 98 units previously bought at P 4.6 million per unit or P 2.3 million higher than the prevailing industry rate.
Hicap said DA and Nabcor will join the same private supplier- the Integrated Refrigeration System and Services (IRSS) for the importation of additional 300 units of ice-making machines under the P 1.5 billion ice making project.
“Something must be done to stop this multi-billion ice making scam. We ask the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives to immediately convene a special session, investigate and stop the commencement of another high crime of corruption in the agriculture department. This is money making and grand raid of public funds perpetrated by the super corrupt people in the Arroyo administration,” the Pamalakaya leader said.
To substantiate his claim that another first-rate crime of corruption at DA and Nabcor is in the making, the Pamalakaya official cited the latest findings of the Commission on Audit which said that some P 7.14 billion of taxpayers’ money were wasted by the agriculture department in 2008 due to bungled project implementation or missing and diverted funds.
In the report, COA said a total of P 5.19 billion farm-to-market road project of the agriculture agency remained incomplete as of Dec. 31, 2008.
Hicap reminded lawmakers that although it is now election period, the season does not prevent them from conducting special sessions, and that they are duty bound to probe and effectively stop any government transactions that are checkered with corruption and irregularities.
“P 1.5 billion is P 1.5 billion. That’s a lot of money for electoral campaign. It can be used as a standby fund by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to corner the speakership in the House of Representatives,” he said referring to Arroyo’s alleged plan to seek the speakership post once officially elected as congresswoman of the2nd district of Pampanga.
Last January 6, Pamalakaya and Anakpawis leaders led by Rep. Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod filed the plunder and other criminal and administrative charges against President Arroyo, Sec. Yap and 13 other public and private officials
Pamalakaya 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.
“The same corrupt actors are behind this P 1.5 billion upcoming ice-making machine scandal. We will not allow this icing on the cake ice making machines scam. We will pursue another 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 we will aggressively explore the parliament of the street to demand truth, justice and accountability,” the Pamalakaya leader added.
“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,” added 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. #