Sen. Zubiri demands full accounting of DA infra funds

BUKIDNON NEWS – Is there something fishy going on? The Senator from Bukidnon seem to think so. Senator Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, today demanded a detailed accounting of all infrastructure projects of the DA (Department of Agriculture) for the past three years after citing a COA (Commission on Audit) report that for FMR (farm to market) projects alone, P5.2B were not “efficiently and effectively implemented.”

“I would request your department to submit to this committee before plenary the complete list of farm to market roads that were given out in the last three years. Iyung complete list, iyung exact locations, anong mga barangay, magkano ang naibigay at ilan po iyan so that we can do an inventory of all these projects,” Zubiri told Sec. Proceso Alcala at the DA budget hearing at the Senate today.

“The COA cited irregularities on FMR worth over 37 million pesos and there are several of them. So i hope that under your leadership Mr. Secretary Alcala na hindi na po mangyayari ito dahil halos kalahati po ng pondo ng DA ay mukhang nawawala po sa corruption, it would be noteworthy if you can make the change,” he added.

The senator has in his possession affidavits from several mayors of different provinces claiming that they were approached by fixers in the department to push for their projects and collect 30% cash from the project cost.

The DA has allotted a total of P2.5B for repair/rehabilitation and construction of FMR for 2011 or a 61.86% reduction from P6.554B in 2010.

“If we want to improve the performance of our agriculture sector we must weed out corruption in the implementation of infrastructure projects which has been the milking cow of unscrupulous officials of the past administrations,” Zubiri warned.

The Bukidnon solon further pointed out the need for the DA to compel the DOE (Department of Energy) to increase the blend of CME (Coco Methyl Ester) content of biofuels from two percent to five percent to help the coconut farmers and producers. Zubiri also proposed the need to implement a reasonable wage structure in the agriculture sector noting that 60% of our labor force is in agriculture.

“Weak agriculture affects consumers, producers and government alike. Consumers pay high prices while producers face low productivity, high wastage and low income. It also encourages smuggling that exacerbates the problem,” he said.

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