Department of Agriculture
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported today, 22 April 2015, that “the Department of Agriculture (DA) squandered more than P14.4 billion in 2013 in questionable projects,” citing a report of the Commission on Audit (COA).
For the record, the Department has always ensured the prudent use of public funds entrusted to us to benefit farmers and fishers and the Filipino people. Allow me to state the following:
• The DAP funds in question were not all within the disposition of the Department. Some P2 billion were allocated to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as implementer of farm-to-market road projects. A substantial amount of P1 billion was used to finance the Agrarian Production Credit Program (APCP) managed by the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and Mindanao Rural Development Project (MRDP).
Some P919 million was used as counterpart in MRDP projects intended to spur development in Mindanao. Notably, MRDP was recognized by the World Bank as a model of transparency and effective project implementation and has paved the way for upscaled version dubbed Philippine Rural Development Project. The PRDP will make available $670 million or P27.50 billion to cover and finance as many project proposals from the Local Government Units and farmers’ and fishers’ groups nationwide.
• For PDAF projects, let me state that the Department stopped releasing PDAF as early as 2013, even before the Supreme Court announced its unconstitutionality.
• The outstanding ACEF loans worth P4.3 billion mentioned in the report were approved and disbursed during the previous administration covering years 2000-2010. The incumbent ACEF Executive Board suspended further disbursement of funds in 2010 due to poor collection performance, which COA also noted. We have formulated remedial measures to improve collection and pursued in earnest continuing collection efforts towards this end.
None of these funds were squandered by the Department. Liquidation and completion of documentation is a work in progress. The COA report itself mentioned the difficulties encountered in the implementation among which are: unstable peace and order condition in the project site, problems on right of way, obstruction within the construction limits, and other related problems which are being addressed on a case to case basis.
We have also directed the Heads of Bureaus and Regional Field Offices to submit their respective responses to the COA report, which will be made public.
This fresh attack on the name and integrity of the Department is undermining the gains of the partnership between the agency and the farmers and fishers, who said that it is only during the Aquino Administration that they feel the genuine support of the national government.
Rest assured that we are abiding by our mandate and continue to uphold the principles of transparency and accountability in governance.
PROCESO J. ALCALA
Department of Agriculture