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House Speaker’s sorry on freedom of info bill rejected

By Bb. Tayuman Recto-Yap, Bb. Joyce Cabral, Billy Javier Reyes and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines- “We don’t need your sorry.” This was the reaction of the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on reports quoting outgoing House Speaker Prospero Nograles that the fourth highest official of the land was sorry for the failure of 14th Congress to pass the Freedom of Information Bill. Nograles said he was sorry for the fate of the Freedom of Information Bill and that did his best to have the controversial measure passed by Congress but there was no quorum at the time the Lower House was set to approve the freedom of info bill.

“We were not born yesterday Mr. Speaker. The Freedom of Information Bill according to the narrow sentiment and interest of Malacanang was designed for a grand massacre,” said Pamalakaya.

“House Speaker Nograles wants to take the truth and justice seeking people of this country to another roller coaster ride. This aging and has-been politician from Davao City will go down in history as one of those shameless and lowlife political prostitutes of all time,” said Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya leader said House Speaker Nograles could had grabbed the opportunity and redeem himself by leading the congressmen to vote in favor of the legislative measure that will empower the Filipino public to source information about contracts and transactions entered into by government agencies and officials, which are deemed disadvantage or inimical to public interest.

“Mr. Speaker opportunity knocks only once. But you did not open the door of the House because that will put the ruling but outgoing occupant in Malacanang and their partners in crime in and out of the Palace and in and out of the House of Representatives in the name of political and legal immunity of the Arroyos and their close associates,” added France.

Pamalakaya said the failure of Congress to pass the Freedom of Information Bill will prevent the group from asking reports and documents from different government agencies concerning government officials and offices involved in big time crimes of corruption.

The militant group is set to demand next Congress to pursue investigations and legislative inquiries pertaining to still unresolved complaints of corruption against President Arroyo, favored cabinet members like former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and top military and police officials implicated in controversial anomalies involving huge public funds.

Pamalakaya earlier said it will ask the next Speaker of the House of Representatives to pursue the investigation of several anomalies involving President Arroyo and Sec. Yap and other top officials of the agriculture department regarding millions of pesos of missing funds at the agriculture department.

One of the issues of corruption which the group will raise is the P 455-million ice making scandal which Pamalakaya said was perpetrated by Malacanang and ex-agriculture secretary and now elected congressman (Bohol, 3rd district) Yap.

“It will be hard for us to secure documents and reports from DA just like the old times, because the law that should have given us the legal franchise to exercise our constitutional right to basic information is thwarted by the Arroyo-Nograles syndicate,” Pamalakaya lamented.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya challenged leading presidential candidate
Senator Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III to certify the approval of the Freedom of Information bill in 15th Congress and make it as one of the prioritized legislative agenda in the first 100 days of his administration.

But some quarters are saying it would still be an uphill battle for the controversial measure, since majority of the allies of President Arroyo who are allergic to the freedom on info bill would still exact political influence in Congress under the Aquino administration.

Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III is optimistic presumptive Philippine president elect Aquino would be fully behind the FOI bill that seeks to improve transparency in government transactions and to make it easier for the public to get the data they need.#

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Fishers say DQ case vs. Yap will reach SC

By Manila Legarda and Bb. Tayuman Recto-Yap

MANILA, Philippines-

Pamalakaya activists accused former agri chief Arthur Yap of pocketing P 455 million in taxpayers money over purchase of 98 ice-making machine

The current legal battle involving the disqualification case filed by the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) may soon reach the Supreme Court according to petitioners Fernando Hicap and Salvador France, chair and vice chairperson of the activist fishermen group.

“Definitely we will challenge the decision of the Commission on Elections before the highest court of the land. The fight against unlawful and immoral claim of Mr. Yap to represent the third congressional district of Bohol will be vigorously pursued in any appropriate court, in the parliament of the streets and in the court of public opinion. There’s no turning back,” the Pamalakaya leaders said in a joint statement.

Hicap and France, the petitioners to the Supreme Court move will be presided by the filing of motion for reconsideration before the Comelec, and if the poll body rejected the motion, they will elevate the case before the high tribunal for proper legal disposal of the disqualification case.

“It is going to be lifetime nightmare for Secretary Yap unless this most favored Cabinet member of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo atone for his political, legal and moral follies and pay for his crimes against the Filipino public,” the Pamalakaya leaders said.

Pamalakaya is now preparing a people’s petition urging senators and congressmen of incoming Congress to investigate Yap on charges of big time corruption in the Department of Agriculture under his watch as secretary of the department.

“It is going to be addressed to the next Senate President and House Speaker of the House of Representatives. Imagine, Secretary Yap, the congressman of Bohol third district is being called to answer charges of top notch crimes of corruption,” the group said.

On January 6, Pamalakaya filed a plunder case against Sec. Yap and President Arroyo in connection with the P 455 million ice making fund scam, which the group said was overpriced by 100 percent per unit. Pamalakaya said Yap and other officials of National Agribusiness Council (NABCOR) should also be investigated on the P 7.14 billion which the Commission on Audit (COA) cited in its’ 2008 report was missing, diverted or bungled.

The Second Division of Comelec last week junked the disqualification case filed by the group.

Pamalakaya received a copy of the 10-page resolution penned by Comelec second division presiding Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer and members Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph dated May 13, 2010 denying the instant petition for disqualification of Yap.

“After thorough examination of the proofs presented by both parties, we are convinced that Respondent Yap has met such requirement. The term “residence” is to be understood not in the common acceptation as referring to “dwelling” or “habitation” but rather to “domicile” or legal residence, that is, “the place where a party actually or constructively has his permanent home, where he, no matter where he may be found at any given time, eventually intends to return and remain,” the Comelec second division said.

The poll body further said: “It has been established that the domicile of origin of the respondent is in Metro Manila. When respondent Yap decided to make Loboc, Bohol as his residence, such a decision did not begin and end by his intimation to Judge Fernandez of his intention. In 2007, Yap was laying the groundwork for his transfer to the said municipality.”

The Comelec said Yap visited local government officials and neighboring towns whenever his regular visits to the place permitted him. The election body said Yap’s intention was made clearer when he finally purchased the house of his mother-in-law in Barangay Buenavista in Loboc, Bohol.

“Although property ownership is not an indicia of domicile, the fact that the respondent bought the property wherein he resides adds to his foothold to the municipality. His attendance in barangay assemblies as member of barangay is indicative of his desire to integrate himself in the community,” the poll body added.

The Comelec noted that Yap’s contributions in the community were recognized when he was conferred the title “adopted son of Loboc, Bohol by way of Resolution No. 131 adopted on October 24, 2005. The commissioners said the law does not state that in abandoning his domicile, the candidate must divest any and all of his properties and interest attached to his previous domicile.

“His electoral victory is a product of political horse trading, highly questionable and totally ridiculous. We will explore all legal remedies to stop Sec. Yap from misrepresenting the third district of Bohol and use his illegally acquired position to get away with high crimes of corruption he committed during his tenure as chief of the agriculture department,” Pamalakaya said. #

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Yap takes 126 K out of 173K votes, but fishers group refuses to give up DQ case

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Chocolate Moose Fernandez and Trinity Biglang Awa

MANILA, Philippines-Controversial former agriculture secretary and unopposed congressional candidate in Bohol’s third district Arthur Yap has accumulated 126,390 votes out of 173,539 total votes cast and appeared shoo-in for the elective post.

However, Yap’s nemesis—the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), that filed a disqualification case against the former agriculture secretary on the question of residency refused to give up, stressing it will explore all available legal remedies to stop Yap’s illegal and immoral claim to represent the people of Bohol in the third district.

“His electoral victory is a product of political horse trading, highly questionable and totally ridiculous. We will explore all legal remedies to stop Sec. Yap from misrepresenting the third district of Bohol and use his illegally acquired position to get away with high crimes of corruption he committed during his tenure as chief of the agriculture department,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap, one of the petitioners in the disqualification case against Yap.

In the latest manifestation submitted to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the lawyers of Sec. Yap said the poll body should immediately dismiss the disqualification case filed by Pamalakaya on March 9, saying that their client was able to garner 126,390 votes out of 173,539 total votes cast. According to Yap’s lawyers, this represents 72.8 percent of the total votes cast or an overwhelming majority.

Citing a Supreme Court ruling in the case of Sinaca vs. Mula (G.R No. 135691, September 27, 1999, 315 SCRA 266,282), Yap’s legal counsel asserted that when a candidate has perceived popular mandate overwhelmingly and clearly expressed, all possible doubts should be resolved in favor of the candidate’s eligibility for to rule otherwise is to defeat the will of the people.

Ex-sec. Yap lawyers said, the determination of the true will of the electorate should be paramount, and that the voice of the people should prevail which is the essence of democracy.

Meanwhile, Hicap assailed Comelec Chairman Jose Melo over the latter’s continuing snub of the disqualification case they filed against Sec. Yap. The Pamalakaya official said the poll body has yet to tackle the disqualification case filed by his group two months before the May 10 elections.

“But Chairman Melo and the rest of the commissioners did not perform their assignment and constitutional mandate. They allowed Yap to run while there is an urgent case waiting for their final resolution ahead of the May 10 polls. This is terrible, really terrible,” the group sad.

“It seems to us Chairman Melo is afraid of Secretary Yap because the former agriculture secretary is no ordinary person for the poll chief and taking up Yap’s case is like entertaining a major fight with Malacanang and Yap’s political benefactors in and out of Malacanang,” said Pamalakaya.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya will send appeal letters to incoming congressmen to investigate cases of corruption involving Sec. Yap particularly the P 455 million overpriced ice-making machines. The militant group said they will also ask the new congress under the Aquino presidency to investigate the unchecked operations of the National Agribusiness Council (Nabcor), an attached agency of DA which is implicated the questionable importation of 98 quick freezing machines.

On top of the P 455 million ice making fund scam, Pamalakaya said Yap and other NABCOR officials should also be investigated on the
P 7.14 billion which the Commission on Audit (COA) cited in its’ 2008 report was missing, diverted or bungled.

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Philippine president “orders” poll body to let favored bet run in May elections?

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Trinity Biglang Awa and Chocolate Moose Fernandez

MANILA, Philippines- The 28 national council leaders of the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday said the annoucement of President Gloria Macapagal-ArroyoGloria Macapagal-Arroyo declaring former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap a sure winner in the third district of Bohol is a marching order to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to junk Pamalakaya’s disqualification case filed against Yap.

“We were not born yesterday. President Arroyo’s political prophecy declaring Secretary Yap as congressman of third district of Bohol is a marching order from Malacanang to Comelec to kill the disqualification case against Yap,” said Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

Ya is running unopposed in his wife’s home province but on March 9, Pamalakaya filed a disqualification case against him for lack of residency.

President Arroyo who was the guest speaker at the first anniversary of a housing project for squatters moved out of Pasig River and victims of typhoons in Marikina and Pasig cities said she was sure of Yap’s unopposed victory in the third district of Bohol.

“Even if he alone votes for himself, Arthur Yap will become congressman because he is unopposed,” said Ms Arroyo.“I asked Yap to sit with me because even if he was already a former government official and now in the private sector and will become congressman,” Arroyo said.

Last week, Pamalakaya asked the Comelec to immediately tackle the disqualification case against Secretary Yap, adding it was puzzled by the development that the poll body has yet to tackle the case against Yap.

The group likewise filed supplemental information to Comelec to beef up the disqualification case they filed against Sec. Yap. The supplemental information was signed by three officials of Barangay Buenavista, municipal of Loboc disproving Yap’s claim that he lives in the village and a resident of the far-flung barangay, which the former agriculture secretary claimed as his present address as shown in his certificate of candidacy.

The supplemental information carried the signatures of former Barangay Buenavista secretary Corbino Cuhit, incumbent barangay councilor Basilio Balog and resident Mateo Ratonel, brother of incumbent barangay councilor Boy Ratonel which said that Yap was never been a resident of the barangay and the controversial secretary just arrived in their village at the start of the election season.

The three said the house and the address referred by Sec. Yap as his official domicile in Buenavista, Loboc is a far-flung community which is not passable to any regular vehicle except single motorcycles due to rough road and mountainous curves.

In their 4-page disqualification case against Yap filed last March 9, Pamalakaya said the former agriculture secretary lacks qualification to run as congressman for the third district of Bohol because he is not a resident of province 3rd district. The group asserted the position for which Yap filed a certificate of candidacy requires that a candidate be a resident of the district (3rd District of Bohol) for a period of not less than one year immediately preceding the May 10, 2010 elections.

Pamalakaya maintained Secretary Yap failed to meet the qualification because the former agriculture secretary still lives in Ortigas, Pasig City and there is no evidence or overt act that Yap abandoned his domicile of origin. The group said their case against Yap is similar to the recently concluded case decided by the poll body against actor Richard Gomez who was barred by Comelec from running in Leyte over the question of domicile.

“More than the issue of residency is the stockpile of graft charges filed by against Secretary Yap before the Office of the Ombudsman regarding irregular and highly questionable use of taxpayers’ money by the agriculture department. This disqualification case pertaining to lack of qualification to run on the basis of residency is just part of the whole process to unearth the truth on controversies surrounding this controversial cabinet of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” said Pamalakaya.

Last January 6, Pamalakaya filed plunder and other criminal and administrative charges against Yap in connection with the P 455 million overpriced ice-making machines. Included in the charge sheet are President Arroyo and other officials of the National Agribusiness Council (Nabcor), an attached agency of DA. On top of the P 455 million ice making fund scam is the P 7.14 billion which the Commission on Audit (COA) cited in its’ 2008 report was missing, diverted or bungled.

“We filed this case not to spoil the political ambition of Sec. Yap. We filed this case because we want truth and justice to prevail over the narrow interest of new breed of traditional and corrupt politician like Sec. Yap,” the fisherfolk alliance added.

Pamalakaya maintained Sec. Yap cannot even speak the language of Boholanos. The group also said the respondent and his family continue to stay in Metro Manila and that in the concept of domicile underelection laws is at Alexandra Residence in Pasig City.

“How can he live and reside in Bohol when Sec. Yap practices his profession and conducts his business in Metro Manila? He continues to be a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Makati Chapter and likewise holds office in Quezon City. He cannot even speak the language of Boholanos and the people of Central Visayas verbally and by heart. It is really impossible” the group said.

The militant group asserted that Sec. Yap is not domiciled in Barangay, Buenavista in Loboc, Bohol or anywhere within the 3rd legislative district of Bohol. It said the respondent does not have real, substantial and material ties to the locality as to qualify him a resident of the said legislative district, adding that Sec. Yap spends much more time in Metro Manila than in Bohol.

“His visits in Bohol are infrequent, short and transient,” said Pamalakaya. #

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Fishers file DQ case against Yap before Comelec

by Gerry Albert Corpuz, Billy Javier Reyes and Sugar Hicap

Manila, Philippines- Leaders of the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) filed on Tuesday a disqualification case against former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap before the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Fisherfolk activists gave OKs to Anakpawis party list and Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza for senate race


In their 4-page disqualification case against Yap, Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap and Vice-chairperson Salvador France said the former agriculture secretary lacks qualification to run as congressman for the third district of Bohol because he is not a resident of province 3rd district. The Pamalakaya leaders said the position for which Yap filed a certificate of candidacy requires that a candidate be a resident of the district (3rd District of Bohol) for a period of not less than one year immediately preceding the May 10, 2010 elections.

Hicap and France asserted Secretary Yap failed to meet the qualification because the former agriculture secretary still live in Ortigas, Pasig City and there is no evidence or overt act that Yap abandoned his domicile of origin. Both fisherfolk leaders said their case against Yap is similar to the recently concluded case decided by the poll body against actor Richard Gomez who was barred by Comelec from running in Leyte over the question of domicile.

“More than the issue of residency is the stockpile of graft charges filed by against Secretary Yap before the Office of the Ombudsman regarding irregular and highly questionable use of taxpayers’ money by the agriculture department. This disqualification case pertaining to lack of qualification to run on the basis of residency is just part of the whole process to unearth the truth on controversies surrounding this controversial cabinet of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” the Pamalakaya leaders added.

Last January 6, Pamalakaya filed plunder and other criminal and administrative charges against Yap in connection with the P 455 million overpriced ice-making machines. Included in the charge sheet are President Arroyo and other officials of the National Agribusiness Council (Nabcor), an attached agency of DA. On top of the P 455 million ice making fund scam is the P 7.14 billion which the Commission on Audit (COA) cited in its’ 2008 report was missing, diverted or bungled.

“We filed this case not to spoil the political ambition of Sec. Yap. We filed this case because we want truth and justice to prevail over the narrow interest of new breed of traditional and corrupt politician like Sec. Yap,” the fisherfolk alliance added.

Pamalakaya maintained Sec. Yap cannot even speak the language of Boholanos. The group also said the respondent and his family continue to stay in Metro Manila and that in the concept of domicile under election laws is at Alexandra Residence in Pasig City.

“How can he live and reside in Bohol when Sec. Yap practices his profession and conducts his business in Metro Manila? He continues to be a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Makati Chapter and likewise holds office in Quezon City. He cannot even speak the language of Boholanos and the people of Central Visayas verbally and by heart. It is really impossible” the group said.

The militant group asserted that Sec. Yap is not domiciled in Barangay, Buenavista in Loboc, Bohol or anywhere within the 3rd legislative district of Bohol. It said the respondent does not have real, substantial and material ties to the locality as to qualify him a resident of the said legislative district, adding that Sec. Yap spends much more time in Metro Manila than in Bohol.

“His visits in Bohol are infrequent, short and transient,” said Pamalakaya. #

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Fishers slam DA plan to buy P 1.5 B worth of ice makers anew

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Sugar Hicap and Lollipop delos Reyes

Manila, Philippines- Icing protest vs. P 455 million ice making machine scam 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. #

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Militants to Yap: “Where were you when we needed you?”

By Cherry Pie Eggpie Sandoval and Lollipop de los Reyes

Manila, Philippines- “Where were you when we needed you?”

The word war between Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and the groups who filed a plunder suit against him last week at the Office of the Ombudsman resumes today as the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and activist party list Anakpawis posed this inquiry to the embattled secretary in connection with the proposed oil and production subsidy for small fisherfolk affected by oil price hikes.

In July 2008, Pamalakaya forwarded a sectoral proposal to the Department of Agriculture (DA) asking Secretary Yap to immediately act on the demand of small fisherfolk battered by oil price spikes to grant the sector oil and production subsidies amounting to P 4,500 per month for fisherfolk owning small motorized boats and P 2,500 per month for fisherfolk using non-motorized boats.

The P 32-b oil and production subsidy for small fisherfolk was submitted to DA in the aftermath of typhoon Frank in 2008 and was followed up after the devastation created by typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng last year. The proposal aims to provide relief and economic assistance to some 900,000 small fisherfolk across the country.

“Secretary Yap, his apologists and his camp of inglorious bastards in DA took our request and just demand for granted,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement. The fisherfolk leader said the money for subsidies could be produced by reducing allocation for debt servicing by at least P 30-billion per year.

‘Instead of addressing the call of small fisherfolk for production and oil subsidies, Yap and company are engaged in prime time and first-rate crime of corruption,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Pamalakaya and Anakpawis said Secretary Yap and Malacanang should hail the filing of plunder complaint in connection with the controversial P 455 million ice making machines project against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Sec. Yap, instead of dismissing the plunder complaint as nuisance suit or ideologically driven harassment.

“President Arroyo and Sec. Yap should be happy that they were given the opportunity to defend themselves against charges of first-rate crime of corruption before the Office of the Ombudsman, although this office is widely perceived as corrupt as Malacanang, the Department of Agriculture and other Arroyo infested government agencies,” the groups said.

But Pamalakaya and Anakpawis noticed that instead of welcoming the plunder charges, Malacanang spokespersons simply dismissed the plunder complaint as nuisance and plain harassment of the President and her current favorite official—Sec. Yap.

“Malacanang is sala sa lamig, sala sa init. President Arroyo should be thankful to us because we gave her the chance to defend herself and clear her name. The same applies to Sec. Yap and the rest of the agriculture officials implicated in the P 455 million ice making scandal. However, signs of guilt are now showing ahead of investigation process,” they added.

Pamalakaya and Anakpawis likewise challenged President Arroyo to compel Secretary Arthur Yap to resign as chief of the Department of Agriculture (DA) or place him under preventive suspension and force the agriculture secretary to quit from running as congressional candidate in the 3rd district of Bohol.

The groups also reiterated their demands to both chambers of Congress to investigate the unchecked and questionable operations of Nabcor, after the groups 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 and Anakpawis 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 groups added.

Anakpawis and Pamalakaya 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 the groups, 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.

In their 16-page plunder complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list 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,” they added.

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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