March 22, 2017 at 12:01 am
Anna Leah E. Gonzales
THERE is now a cabal within the government, allegedly comprised of former officials from the Aquino administration, that is seeking to control multibillion-peso government projects and contracts, Philippine Coconut Authority Administrator Avelino Andal said Tuesday.
“There is now a pattern of wide ranging conspiracy covering various agencies [and government-owned or controlled corporations] such as National Irrigation Administration, National Food Authority, National Housing Authority and the Philippine Coconut Authority,” Andal said in a telephone interview.
Andal said the cabal is comprised of “some vested interest groups that have wormed their way and cozied up into the Duterte government after they jumped ship from the past regime” and is now trying to discredit Duterte appointees so they can take over the agencies.
“This faction wants control over GOCCs which oversees big-ticket infrastructure projects, big rice and other grains importations,” Andal charged.
“[They] also want the biggest pie of them all, the hundred-billion peso coconut levy fund, the imminent legislation of which is now in the hands of Congress, and is being fast-tracked for the benefit of millions of our coconut farmers and the coconut industry as a whole,” Andal said.
Andal claimed he himself has become a target of this group which has accused him of corruption so they can take over the PCA.
“The accusations that I am involved in corrupt activities as PCA administrator is simply a scapegoat or a coverup to justify their plans to take over PCA. There is nothing other than that,” Andal said.
Andal said the PCA Board, headed by Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., suspended him after two of his staff members allegedly demanded an extra collection of fees on coco lumber and transport permits, a charge that Andal denied.
Board members Edicio dela Torre, Romulo dela Rosa and Alan Tanjuakio and board chairman Evasco signed his suspension order but board member Ponciano Batugal did not.
He found it suspicious that the PCA Board had to “surreptitiously” pass three board resolutions, including the preventive suspension against him, last March 15.
“The whole action of the PCA Board of March 15, 2017 constitutes an unjust, unfair and oppressive exercise of executive action against the administrator and a co-director of the governing board, who is the board’s vice chairperson and a direct appointee of the incumbent President Rodrigo R. Duterte,” Andal said.
Andal claimed the PCA Governing Board never really met on March 15 (or after March 8, which was the latest Governing Board meeting) so they could not and did not deliberate on the matter which is a major organizational issue.
“The purported signatures appearing in copies of the said Board Resolution no. 027-2017 were simply collated by referendum, thereby circumventing any democratic discussion on the issue, much less “agreeing unanimously that an investigation is warranted”; how could the four Board members (the Chairperson included) “agree unanimously” when in fact and in truth there was no meeting convened for that purpose,” he said.
Andal said the “so-called Board Resolution number 027-2017 and its attendant resolutions number 026-2017 and 028-2017 were all products of a conspiratorial plot to unseat the incumbent Administrator of the PCA.”