By Billy Javier Reyes and Bb. Joyce Cabral
Manila, Philippines-Leaders of the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and staunch ally Anakpawis party list wondered why up to now Agriculture secretary Arthur Yap refuses to vacate the Department of Agriculture (DA) post despite the Supreme Court announcement this week that all appointed government officials running in the May 2010 elections were deemed resigned when they filed their certificates of candidacy.
Secretary Yap had filed his certificate of candidacy and is running unopposed in his bid to represent the 3rd district of Bohol province this May 2010 polls. But Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said Yap’s continued stay in the agriculture department revealed that the controversial Cabinet official has some “monkey business” to finish before the leaves office.
On Feb.23, the high tribunal issued decision directing all appointed government officials who are running for elective posts in May 2010 elections to quit public office. SC spokesperson Atty. Midas Marquez said the ruling was immediately executor, but the parties involved can file a motion for reconsideration.
“Is Secretary Yap over and above the Supreme Court? It is really mind-boggling and super puzzling why up to now; the agriculture secretary never said anything about the high court’s direct order for him to relinquish his post. Perhaps he has still some unfinished monkey business in DA. Just to remind the public, Yap steered DA into one of the top grossing corrupt offices in the Macapagal-Arroyo administration,” the Pamalakaya leader said.
“Secretary Yap has been very silent since the SC made its ruling on appointed government officials seeking elective posts in May 2010 elections. It will just take an hour for him to write and tender his resignation,” added Hicap.
Last week, Anakpawis party list and Pamalakaya dared President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Agriculture Secretary Yap to account a total of P 7.14 billion in taxpayers’ money, which the Commission on Audit (COA) found missing or diverted to other purposes in 2008.
Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente said President Arroyo and Sec. Yap did not disclose the public the report and findings of COA about the disbursement of more than 7 billion pesos, which the state-run auditing body said was lost to “wasteful operation, bungled project implementation or missing and diverted funds.
“Mrs. Arroyo and Mr. Yap concealed the COA report to the public for obvious reason—first rate crimes of corruption were committed involving billions of public funds courtesy of the Office of the President and the Office of the secretary of Agriculture,” she said.
Quoting the COA 2008 report, the Anakpawis official said a total of P 5.19 billion intended for farm-to-market road project were either missing or incomplete. She said the DA only spent P 1.3 billion or 38.99 percent of the total project allotment for 2008. Another big item, the P 1.3 billion fertilizer fund project under the GMA Rice Program was also bungled because local government units refused to participate in the implementation.
Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list took note COA’s other findings like printing of P 2.2 million fertilizer discount coupons which were rendered useless, the construction of mini-dams in Regions VIII, IX and XI built at a cost of P 7.35 million but were rendered useless due to inferior construction, the construction of 11 Barangay Food Terminals worth P 1.55 million but only one was functional, and the remaining 10 were condemned due to operational deficiencies.
The same COA report described DA as notorious in purchasing equipment which are overpriced, not really needed or cannot be utilized or run by intended beneficiaries, adding that many of the equipment bought are unutilized, undelivered and now rusting in storage.
Pamalakaya said the earth shaking COA report should stop the national government and the agriculture department from buying 300 new ice-making machines to the amount of P 1.5 billion on top of the 98 ice-making machines which DA purchased in 2009 at an overpriced rate of P 4.6 million, 100 percent more of the prevailing industry price.
On January 6, Pamalakaya and Anakpawis led complainants to the plunder case filed against President Arroyo and Agriculture secretary 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). #