MANILA — Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala on Monday warned the public of the “diversionary tactics” being carried out by personalities really involved in the so-called pork barrel scam and stressed that the affidavits og Janet Lim-Napoles “are not to be taken hook, line and sinker.”
“From what we have gathered from the two affidavits submitted by Janet Napoles, we are seeing a deliberate attempt to divert the issues against those who have plundered the national coffers by discrediting people who have been pushing for genuine reforms in the bureaucracy,” said Alcala in a press briefing at the Department of Agriculture main office in Quezon City.
The agriculture chief said that as it turned out, the two affidavits submitted by Napoles dated May 12 and May 26 did not ascribe to him any abuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
He noted that in the first affidavit, there was no mention whatsoever of his name being involved in the anomalous transactions.
However, Alcala said that in the second affidavit, there was an attempt to connect him to Napoles by implication since he is the signing authority for the DA.
“Kung susuriin nating mabuti ang mga sinasabing transaksyunes na ginamit umano ang DA at ang mga ahensya nito upang pagnakawan ang ating bansa ay makikita nating walang katotohanan ang paratang sa akin,” he said.
Alcala pointed out that the alleged DA transactions — which happened from 2004 and 2005 — did not even occur during his term.
“There were also several transactions wherein the lawmakers whose PDAFs were supposedly involved were no longer in Congress when I became DA secretary,” he added.
“It just proves what I have been saying ever since my name was dragged into the scandal — that the accusations against me are malicious and has no basis in fact,” Alcala said.
“Unfair po ito sa ating mga kababayan at dun sa mga napapagdiskitahan lamang,” he stressed.
Alcala said it was also unfair for the farmers and the fisherfolk as this issue threatens to take away DA’s focus on its programs and services and negate the gains the agriculture sector achieved since the start of the President Benigno S. Aquino III’s administration.
Among them is the sustained growth of the country’s palay output in the last three years that pushed the national rice sufficiency level to 96 percent by end of 2013, from merely 82 percent in 2010.
He also cited the operational reforms instituted at the National Food Authority (NFA), which significantly reduced the country’s rice import bill by an average of P54 billion a year and slowed down the financial bleeding of the deb-ridden grains agency.
Alcala said that from P176.8 billion in 2010, NFA’s accumulated debt incurred largely from the previous administration went down to P155 billion by the end of 2013.
“The need to sustain these reforms and milestones was the reason I did not even contemplate on leaving my post after being cited in the so-called ‘Napolist’ by government critics,” he said.
“Sa aking palagay ay hindi interes ng mga magsasaka at mangingisda ang isinusulong ng aking mga kritiko at may iba silang motibasyon para panawagan ang aking pagbibitiw,” he said.
Nevertheless, he said he would continue to pursue the Aquino administration’s goal of inclusive growth in the rural countryside.
“Hinding-hindi ko po kailanman matatalikuran ang aking paglilingkod sa ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda,” Alcala said.