COA: Department of Agriculture squandered P14B of its funds

By , on April 22, 2015

Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. (PIA photo)
Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. (PIA photo)

MANILA – According to the Commission on Audit (COA), the Department of Agriculture (DA) likely misused about P14.4 billion of its public funds on questionable programs and projects.

DA Secretary Proceso Alcala has then been under great scrutiny. Ironically, Alcala was a supporter of President Benigno Aquino III, who promoted a ‘tuwid na daan’ type of governance.

According to COA’s report, the DA wasted large sums of their funds on various anomalous programs and projects supposedly aimed for developments in agriculture.

Many of these projects, which included construction of farm-to-market roads, credit financing for livestock sector and financial assistance for the cultivation of commercial crops, were left incomplete or lacked necessary documents.

“The implementation of the objectives of the projects were inefficient and ineffective… due to the deficiencies in the implementation of the projects,” the COA said in their report.

“It could not be assured if the benefits could have been derived there from by the intended beneficiaries fully benefited from the use of said funds due to non-submission of the physical status of the projects by the implementing partners and the monitoring reports on the progress of the projects by the DA representatives,” the COA further explained.

Aside from the DA’s regular funds, the department also received additional funding from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

The Supreme Court had already declared unconstitutional both the PDAF and the DAP.

Detained Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and Lanao del Sur Representative Mohammed Pangandaman also financed the agricultural department with P45 million and P30 million respectively.

Other than the delayed or incomplete projects, the COA report also showed that there were allocations of the funds on suspicious nongovernment organizations, including one set up by multi-billion pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.

The COA then demanded the DA to liquidate the expenditures and balances of its disbursed funds. The COA also asked the department to do the same for its other implementing agencies.

Alcala, for his part, said that the DA will review and revalidate their accomplishment reports through field monitoring and sessions within the department and other attached agencies.

“Measures are being taken to implement the audit recommendations,” he said, adding that the department had already sent letters to agencies and NGOs, asking for their liquidation.