Ambaguio, Nueva Vizcaya—A group of women vegetable farmers here has filed a complaint for estafa with the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office (PPO) against a provincial board member and staff of a cooperative that the farmers said was being used as a front to secure loans from government agencies that never developed despite months of waiting.
Sixteen members of the TIBIK (Timpuyog Ti Babbalasang Idi Kalman) Ambaguio Chapter filed their sworn affidavits of complaints last July 20 at the PPO against North District Board Member Roland Carub.
Also included in the complaint are Nora Reyes, manager of the Cebu Multipurpose Cooperative (Cebu Coop) in Nueva Vizcaya and a resident of Solano town; Cebu Coop Loan Officer Rosalia Taculao Galising Aleste; a certain James, who the farmers said posed as a cashier for the cooperative; and a certain Amy, a staffer of Cebu Coop.
In a radio interview, Carub defended himself, saying the applications for the loans from the Department of Agriculture were processed by the Cebu cooperative, “but the government procedures are very slow, that’s why until now the loans are not yet granted.”
Reyes, Aleste and the two coop workers have yet to react to the filing as of presstime.
According to Lea Buhangik, Ambaguio TIBIK Chapter President, Carub, Reyes and Aleste went to Ambaguio to personally convince them to create a workers/gardeners’ association to be registered at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Vizcaya Field Office.
This, Buhangik said, would enable the farmers to secure a loan from the Production Easy Access Loan (PLEA) from the Department of Agriculture worth P50,000 to P100,00, from P3 or Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for P20,000, and other funds from the national government.
Carub did the DOLE orientation himself without any personnel from the department in February 2019, Buhangik said, which the farmers were made to believe is credible since the board member is a person of authority.
The complainants, in their sworn statements, unanimously pointed out that they were enticed and convince to form TIBIK because Carub is the group’s founder. Also, the Cebu Coop office is listed at Carub Building on 29 Yogad Street, Barangay Quirino in Solano, which is owned by the board member.
But to avail of the government aid, Reyes of Cebu Coop told the farmers to register with their cooperative with a P5,930 membership fee each, which would also entitle them to up to P40,000 in loans with the cooperative, Buhangik said.
Shirley Anne Dingcoy, Vice President of Ambaguio TIBIK, also said they each paid Cebu Coop an additional P200 for notarial fees to process their PLEA application forms with the DOLE. The farmers paid these fees in September 2019, they said in their affidavit.
But months passed without development, as the complainants said from October 2019 to February 2020, the members were continually promised by the different staff of Cebu Coop to wait because their loan package would soon be granted.
In March this year, tired of waiting for their promised loans to augment their farming financial necessities, the members again went to Cebu Coop to inquire and tried withdraw their capital shares for lack of return of investment, but the cooperative refused to return the monies.
Coop manager Reyes told the complainants she was not able to personally bring the P3 applications to the DTI Regional Office in Baguio City because of the prevailing enhanced community quarantine.