Are attempts to hide the truth behind the fertilizer
funds now taking place?
Peasant leader Danilo
Ramos said some congressmen in Bicol are “fast-tracking” the distribution
of fertilizer bags and even cash allegedly to refute claims that no farm
inputs were distributed to farmers under the controversial P728-million
fertilizer fund of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
BY AUBREY SC MAKILAN
ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines) chair Danilo
Ramos told Bulatlat in an interview that Felix Paz of KMP-Bicol
reported that some congressmen in Bicol are “fast-tracking” the
distribution of fertilizer bags and even cash allegedly to refute the
claims of many farmer groups that no farm inputs/implements were
distributed under the controversial P728-million fertilizer fund. The
funds were released by the Department of Agriculture (DA) in February
But, Ramos said, it
will not hide the fact that the fertilizer funds was just a scheme to fund
the campaign of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. KMP members have
already submitted sworn statements confirming they have not received any
fertilizer or money under the said allocation.
Ramos also said that
these sworn statements will be presented and submitted to the Citizen’s
Congress that will try the president on Nov. 8 and 9 at the University of
the Philippines and Nov. 15 and 16 at the University of
where he will participate as an “expert witness” to testify on the
fertilizer funds issue.
Not given any
KMP, a nationwide
organization of peasants with 64 provincial and 320 municipal chapters,
said their members did not receive any fertilizer.
In an interview with
Bulatlat, Jaime Quieta of KMP-Caraga denied receiving any form of
assistance from the controversial fertilizer funds. “Ni isang butil na
abono ay wala kaming natanggap.” (We did not receive any fertilizer.)
Greg Rivera of
Pampanga also said he did not benefit from the P5 million supposedly
allotted to his province’s 2nd district.
Quieta, who lives in
San Miguel, Surigao del Sur, said they were not given any fertilizer or
farm equipment, even if there was P3.25 million given to Rep. Prospero
Pichay for the 1st District alone. Quieta was surprised to
learn their congressman received “such a big amount” in December last
year. P3.25 million and P1.75 million were also allotted for Pampanga’s 2nd
and 3rd districts, respectively.
told Bulatlat that Rep. Jesnar Falcon (2nd District,
Surigao del Sur) distributed a multi-cab vehicle for each of the 60
barangays (villages) in March and April last year, just a month before the
elections. The money used for purchasing the multi-cabs allegedly came
from the fertilizer fund.
Also during the
campaign period, they reportedly observed how two bags of fertilizers were
sold to some farmers for the price of one.
During the Oct. 26
hearing of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, it was revealed
that four of eight non-government organizations listed as beneficiaries of
the fertilizer funds were not registered with the Securities and Exchange
Commissions (SEC) nor with the Cooperative Development Authority.
The following were
cited as examples: Gabay Masa Development Foundation Inc., which got P30.5
million for Region IV; Peoples’ Organization for Progress and Development
Foundation Inc. (POPDFI) , P13 million, Region V, X and IX; Magsasaka
Foundation Inc., P11.5 million, Region IX and IV; and the Matatag na
Republika, with no specific amount recorded.
The POPDFI was the
conduit for the 2nd and 3rd District of Surigao del
Sur. But Quieta, whose chapter is from Surigao del Sur, denied any
knowledge of such transaction nor hearing of such organization.
In a press release
dated Nov. 2, DA assistant secretary for administration and finance Felix
Jose Montes said “most of these NGOs have been dealing with the DA for
several years already and that they have submitted their accreditation
papers with various regional offices.” If found that the submitted
documents were spurious, Montes said the groups would have to reimburse
the DA the whole amount released to them.
Ramos however said
that more than the local government units (LGUs), it is the responsibility
of the DA to examine the NGOs it transacts with. He added that most of
these are only “NGO bureaucrats” used as front organizations for personal
He also said that
based on the Senate hearing, the LGUs did not know anything about the
disbursement of the funds.
Jojo Villano of the
League of Provinces of the
Philippines on the other hand said
the League was unaware of the so-called fertilizer funds. He said they
only came to know about it from media.
The Commission on
Audit (COA) reported that the DA list of recipients included 105
congressmen, 53 governors and 23 municipal mayors. It was able to
identify 104 congressmen, 46 governors and 34 mayors as actual recipients.
Ramos said these
recipients are mostly the president’s allies or party mates. The only
opposition member he noted was Rep. Rodolfo Plaza of Agusan del Sur.
Meanwhile, there were also congressmen who earlier denied receiving
anything from the fertilizer funds like Rep. Teddy Boy Locsin of Makati.
Ramos said Rep.
Darlene Custodio of Cotabato was included in the original list of
beneficiaries but deleted possibly because of her support for Macapagal-Arroyo’s
rival Fernando Poe Jr.
said, there are those like Rep. Federico Sandoval (Malabon-Navotas ) who
supposedly received P3 million for a tornado shredder machine but which
COA could not find.
COA reports showed
that of the P728 million, the DA only released P723 million for its
regional field units (RFUs). Of the P723 million, only P615 million were
given out to the beneficiaries-conduits. The remaining P108 million was
supposedly for “administrative expenses.”
officials said that of the total amount released, P91.1 million went to
supplies, P371 million to LGUs and P152.5 million to NGOs. Of the last,
only about 51 percent had so far been liquidated, said COA officials.
na ang abono para sa mga magsasaka at palayan ay mukhang inabono na para
sa kampanya ni Arroyo at ng kanyang mga kaalyadong politiko noong 2004
elections, (It appears that the funds for fertilizers were used to fund
the campaign of Arroyo and her allies during the 2004 elections)” he said.
said the Surigao del Sur LGU refuses to release any information regarding
the fertilizer fund. Local DA officials on the other hand claim they do
not know anything about it.
“Sabi pa ng
personnel ng DA, ‘di nila alam na meron palang malaking halagang ganon
para sa magsasaka,(Personnel from DA said that they did not know that
there was such a big amount alloted to farmers) ” he said.
Not just the
Aside from the
controversial fertilizer funds, Ramos said the sequestered Marcos
ill-gotten wealth should also be given attention.
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, sequestered ill-gotten wealth should be
used for land distribution purposes.
escrow account at the Swiss Bank was transferred to the Philippine
National Bank (PNB) in 1997. P35 billion was later transferred to the
Bureau of Treasury in 2004.
Ramos said that their
initial investigation showed that almost P4.9 billion were released from
February to April 2004. The government also released, he added, P5.6
billion under the Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD) and an
undetermined amount to the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) and
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Bulatlat
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© 2005 Bulatlat
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