PBBM must shake up DA (1)

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. should handle the administration of the Department of Agriculture lest his administration suffers the same fate as President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III.

Aquino assigned the task of promoting agricultural development to two people he thought he could trust to do the job for him — Mr. Proceso J. Alcala, whom he appointed on 30 June 2010 as DA secretary, and former senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, as his assistant on food security and agricultural modernization — in his desperate bid to meet his campaign promise of food security for the people under his term. Both, Alcala and Pangilinan, failed miserably.

Six months after the assumption into office of secretary Alcala, the Office of the Supervising Auditor issued a disclaimer of opinion on the financial statements of the DA as of 31 December 2010.

A disclaimer of opinion is issued by the auditor when he cannot obtain sufficient basis or explanation or evidence of doubtful accounts or items in the financial statements. Unexplained and unsubstantiated by the Office of the Secretary and staff bureaus were millions of unrecorded collections, deposits, and interest income; millions of unliquidated cash advances; and illegal double recording of millions of liquidations.

Again, on 13 February 2013, the Supervising Auditor issued a disclaimer of opinion on the financial statements of the DA as of 31 December 2011, due to unrecorded collections, deposits, interest income, and other items; liquidation reports without supporting documents; receivable balances, such as advances to officers and employees, were unsubstantiated or unsupported by documents.

On 10 October 2014, the Supervising Auditor rendered an adverse opinion on the fairness of the presentation of the financial statements of the DA as of 31 December 2012, because they contained misstatements and misrepresentations resulting in accounting errors and deficiencies in the asset and liability accounts.

Three major programs — Agri-Pinoy Rice and Corn; Agri-Pinoy High-Value Commercial Crops; and Agri-Pinoy Livestock — supported by 10 projects with total funding of P42 billion failed to attain their objectives due to a lack of efficient/effective implementation and monitoring mechanism for collecting repayment for loans from proponents/releases of funds.

This constituted a major blow to the overall blueprint for attaining self-sufficiency in rice and corn production and improved food security for the country.

Contributory to the looming collapse of the government effort to achieve the foregoing goals was the failure to complete irrigation projects and worst, because of corruption, there were failures in the implementation of the Farm-to-Market Roads Development Program with the funding of P46 billion in FYs 2010-2016.

Getting desperate that his campaign promise to the people might not be fulfilled, he tapped on 6 May 2014 Kiko Pangilinan to clean up the department of Alcala, which had been shaken by charges of corruption.

The financial transactions and operations of DA for the calendar year 2013 were overtaken by the declaration of the Supreme Court for the permanent injunction of the Priority Assistance Development Fund allocated for the year 2013, as well as for all previous years, as of 13 November 2013.

The Agriculture secretary had been under heavy fire for allowing the pork barrel scam to flourish under the Aquino administration, as alleged mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles continued to channel state funds to her fake foundations with the help of her contact in the DA, Agriculture assistant secretary Ophelia Agawin, who, according to a retired State Auditor V, was the brain in bribing 11 Commission on Audit state auditors assigned in the Agriculture department, granting each of them a P40,000 Christmas bonus on 21 December 2011.

By then, Alcala had started to be on the receiving end in the criticism of the president Aquino’s impending failure to meet his campaign promise of reaching full sufficiency and improved food security under his term, the increase in rice smuggling, and the unabated corruption in irrigation projects.

(To be continued)

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