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Agri chief rapped for plunder again

 Alcala diverted P1-b govt funds to son’s campaign kitty—accuser

A MILITANT lawyer filed the third plunder complaint against Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala Friday, accusing him of funneling P1.07 billion from the government coffers to the campaign kitty of his son Irvin, who ran for governor but lost in the May 2013 elections.

Citing a 2012 audit report of the Commission on Audit, lawyer Argee Guevarra said the diverted funds were part of the P11.4 billion in disbursements to the National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor).

Alcala said he had not received any official notice of the new plunder case.

In his complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman, Guevarra, legal counsel of the activist group Sanlakas, said Alcala and Nabcor president Honesto Baniqued should be charged with plunder, graft, malversation, and violations of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

Given the recent revelations at the Senate, Guevarra added, P11.4 billion could have been “liquidated” by Nabcor to line the pockets of Agriculture officials, as reflected in the 2012 Commission on Audit report on Nabcor.

Citing the audit report, Guevarra said in his complaint that there was “a pattern of overt criminal acts” in Nabcor under the watch of Alcala,” which was used to finance the losing bid of his son Irvin, funds of which were derived from his kickbacks and projects in Nabcor.”

“Nabcor, has been notorious in 2013 for facilitating fake projects in cahoots with Janet Lim Napoles and is planned to be closed down because of this, yet, since such pronouncement by the Agriculture chief last year, Nabcor continues to function as

one of the Agriculture Department’s flagships of corruption,” Guevarra said in an interview.

“Under Alcala’s term as chairman and Baniqued’s term as president, Nabcor’s link as Napoles’ agency of choice is getting more apparent,” he added.

In his complaint, Guevarra said:

* P807.595 million was disbursed by Nabcor without, to this date, disbursement vouchers and journal entry vouchers;

* Disbursements worth P31.406 million were without signatures of the approving authority from Nabcor and the Agriculture Department;

* The amount of P53.429 million supposedly invested by Nabcor in joint venture with 10 municipalities is missing and not reflected in the joint venture partners’ books;

* A total of P156.174 million was supposedly disbursed but the same cannot be found in the documentation for Nabcor’s project funds;

* A consultant was “hired” by Nabcor for P10.300 million to negotiate with another government entity, PDIC, when this was not needed, and the amount of P5.300 million was allegedly expended without the consultant rendering work;

* Alcala and Baniqued rewarded themselves with hefty salaries, allowances and other benefits amounting to P23.6 million.”

Guevarra said the P807.595 million that was not covered by vouchers was part of the P5.8 billion in disbursements that the Commission on Audit flagged as having incomplete documentation as of March 31, 2013.

“Nabcor’s non-submission for the year 2012 alone even exceeded its non-submission from 2009 to 2011 combined, which is at P5.6 billion,” Guevarra added. “That puts Nabcor’s liability to COA at P11.4 billion since 2009.”

This, he said, was even more than the P10 billion pork barrel scam.

“It is safe to assume that a good percentage of the P11.4 billion disbursement, the vouchers of which were either not submitted for audit or were submitted beyond COA’s deadline, were siphoned off to Napoles during the time of Daang Matuwid,” Guevarra said, referring the President Benigno Aquino III’s straight path policy.

He also observed that Nabcor’s late submission of vouchers for P4.979 billion to COA on May 17, 2013 came four days after the national and local elections.

“Is this a simple case of Noy-Noying procrastination? A case of laziness? Or a brazen example of Bolante-style fertilization of the candidacies of administration candidates?” Guevarra added, referring to the fertilizer fund scandal in which then Agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante was alleged to have diverted P728 million earmarked for farmers to the political campaign of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

In his complaint, Guevarra said that in the May 2013 elections, the Agriculture Department’s “issuance of job orders increased abnormally, making it clear that respondent Alcala directed his regional directors and all attached DA agencies in Quezon to support the gubernatorial bid of his son.”

But Guevarra said the amount involved suggested that it was not only Alcala’s son, but “an entire party and its national and local slates” that benefitted from the fund diversion.

“One can just simply connect the dots--he promises rice self-sufficiency but importation is at record high, he promises reforms in the agri sector but corruption has worsened to the billion-peso level and yet, despite resignations out of delicadeza in President Aquino’s Cabinet, it seems that Alcala is irreplaceable,” he said.

Friday’s complaint was the second plunder case filed by Guevara against Alcala. Last December, Guevarra charged Alcala of profiting from an overpriced government-to-government rice importation deal with Vietnam.

In October 2013, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas filed the first plunder complaint against Alcala, President Benigno Aquino III, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, seven other government officials and businesswoman Janet Napoles before the Ombudsman. – With Rio N. Araja

 

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