September 20, 2011
SENATOR Francis Pangilinan intends to unmask the mastermind behind the alleged anomalous P7.5-billion farm-to-market road projects during the Arroyo administration.
Pangilinan, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Foods, is set to investigate the amount released to the Department of Agriculture during the 2010 election period supposedly to be used in constructing farm-to-market roads.
“The amount of P7.5 billion was released, however, without a work program. This is plunder. Our people were deprived of the opportunity to improve their lives with the help of these much-needed roads,” he said.
Sen.Franklin Drilon said that the amount was released to the Department of Agriculture from January 2010 up to June of last year. “A substantial portion of the P7.5 billion could not be accounted for in terms of road construction, length, quality,” he said.
“We are investigating that now in the Oversight Committee on Public Expenditures. We have not yet come to any conclusion. What we just have is our initial finding that a good portion of this could not be accounted for,” Drilon said.
He said that the DA has set up a Global Positioning System (GPS) to determine the exact location of the new proposals for farm-to-market road projects. “Talagang tinitingnan nila kung ang hinihingi bang farm-to-market roads ngayon ay hindi hiningi nung nakaraang taon. Ang nangyayari (dati), the same farm-to-market road is funded regularly,” Drilon said.
“If found true that no farm-to-market road was constructed when this amount was released from January to June 2010, then those responsible for this anomaly must be held accountable and must explain themselves to those who toil their farms relentlessly yet remain below the poverty line,” Pangilinan said.
He noted the Commission on Audit reported that funds to be used in constructing farm-to-market roads in Maguindanao were mostly spent for gas purchases from service stations owned by the Ampatuan clan, known allies of former President now Rep.Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Former agriculture secretary Arthur Yap had already denied the irregularity. “Of course that would be denied. We do not expect him to admit this but the fact is it’s on record that P7.5 billion was released,” Drilon said.
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