Senate agri committee to probe ‘missing’ farm-to-market roads

September 19, 2011

Jonathan de Santos
Sun Star Online
September 19, 2011

MANILA — The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food will look into
P7.5 billion that the Department of Agriculture released in early 2010 without proper documentation.

Senator Francis Pangilinan, committee chairman, said Monday that he will file a resolution to have his committee look into the releases disclosed by Senator Franklin Drilon on Sunday.

Drilon said then Agriculture secretary Arthur Yap released the money even though the projects lacked programs of work.

According to the Department of Agriculture website, a program of work includes information on how long a project will take before it is completed depending on daily output and “on the available labor in the area.”

A sample program of work provided on the DA website lists specific tasks, the equipment and workers needed to complete the task, and how long it will take to complete.

Drilon said the farm-to-market roads that the money was supposed to pay for cannot be found.

“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 added the Commission on Audit has also reported that money for rural access roads in Maguindanao “were mostly spent” for fuel purchases at gasoline stations owned by the Ampatuan clan whom he described as “President (Gloria Macapagal) Arroyo’s known allies.”

“This is plunder. Our people were deprived of the opportunity to improve their lives with the help of these much-needed roads,” he said.

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