MANILA — To shed light on the issues surrounding the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan has filed Senate Resolution 338 directing the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the alleged corruption at the agency.
On March 15, 2017, Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., chairperson of the PCA Governing Board, issued a resolution suspending PCA Administrator Avelino Andal for his alleged extortion of P1.50 per board foot of trees being cut in Basilan, Mindoro, Marinduque, and Quezon as well as his alleged order to collect fees on transport permits.
The collected fees purportedly amounted to as much as P90 million in Basilan alone.
In an earlier statement, Pangilinan refuted Andal’s accusation that the “yellows” were behind the so called “evil scheme to undermine the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.”
“Blaming the Liberal Party for their own internal conflict concerning serious accusations of corruption has become the easy recourse of top government officials,” said Pangilinan, former Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (PAFSAM).
Moreover, Andal specifically accused Cabinet Undersecretary Halmen Valdez for orchestrating such a “scheme” in viewing of Valdez’s purported connection with the OPAFSAM, which was under Pangilinan during the previous administration.
Pangilinan noted in the resolution that he resigned as Secretary of OPAFSAM on September 30, 2015, months before Valdez joined OPAFSAM.
Andal has said that the accusations hurled against him are in connection with the anticipated enactment of Senate Bill 1233 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act.
“The ongoing rift and grave accusations heaved between PCA and the Office of the Cabinet Secretary cast serious doubt on the integrity, capacity, and reliability of PCA to administer the proposed trust fund which must be investigated,” Pangilinan noted in the resolution.
The bill, pending on second reading in the Senate, proposes to establish the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund estimated at about P100 billion in cash and assets for the benefit of the coconut farmers and the development of the coconut industry.