September 20, 2011
Sen. Francis Pangilinan yesterday filed a resolution directing his committee – the committee on agriculture and food – to investigate the P7.5 billion “farm-to-pocket” road projects by the Arroyo administration during the 2010 campaign period.
“The enormous amount was released from the Department of Agriculture during 2010’s 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,” Pangilinan 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 accountable and explain to those who toil their farms relentlessly yet remain below the poverty line,” he said.
“This is plunder. Our people were deprived of the opportunity to improve their lives with the help of these much-needed roads,” he said.
In his Senate Resolution 600, Pangilinan said the amount could have been spent for DA’s programs to increase production yield of crops and vegetables, invest in research and development, provide credit to farmers and fisherfolk and develop agricultural industries in rural areas.
Sen. Franklin Drilon said the Congressional Oversight Committee on Public Expenditures, of which he is chairman, discovered that the P7.5 billion was released by the DA during the first six months of 2010.
“Hindi pa namin alam kung magkano ang nawawala but a substantial portion of the P7.5 billion could not be accounted for in terms of road construction, length, quality,” Drilon said.
Drilon admitted they have identified the areas where the funds went “but we are not yet prepared to make it public as we are still on the preliminary stage.”
When informed that former DA Secretary Arthur Yap denied the fund misuse, Drilon said: “We do not expect him to admit this but the fact is it’s on record that P7.5 billion was released.”
He said Yap would be invited in the hearing “after we have substantially completed the investigation.”
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