President Rodrigo Duterte asked the courtesy resignations of members of the board of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said.
Piñol added the submission of quit papers will give Mr. Duterte more leeway in reorganizing the agency once the Coco Levy Act takes full effect.
Under the Coco Levy Act, P100 billion in funds shall be handled by the overhauled PCA which will be comprised of representatives from the departments of finance, agriculture and budget and management along with stakeholders from the coconut industry and coconut farmers from Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.
Asking the PCA board members to voluntarily vacate their posts will “give the President a free hand in selecting new directors,” according to Piñol.
At present, the Agriculture chief is the vice-chairman of the PCA with its administrator as its vice-chairman plus four board members.
They will stay on until new members of the board are named or if they are reappointed.
Malacañang had yet to issue a statement or release more details regarding the President’s order at press time.
The Commission on Audit (CoA), in a 2017 report on PCA, questioned overpriced purchases of the PCA in its regional offices.
Corn seeds were supposedly overpriced by P1.073 million, government auditors said.
Purchase of Regions I to IV of 3,000 kilos of glutinous corn seeds and 1,428 kilos of yellow hybrid corn, with a total amount of P1.660 million, was labeled “disadvantageous to the government” by CoA.
The corn seeds were purchased to provide small coconut farming communities of intercropping materials to increase their income.
An inquiry made by the CoA from the Department of Agriculture revealed the corn seeds it purchased were only P100 to P200 per kilo, 150 percent to 200 percent lower than the purchase costs in PCA Regions I to IV at P250 to P560 per kilo.
Similar results were also revealed upon further inquiry with the University of the Philippines in Los Baños.
The CoA recommended the PCA should coordinate with government agencies and to buy directly from accredited seed growers of the Bureau of Plant Industry.
The PCA then blamed the higher purchase price on transport costs.
Government auditors, however, saw lapses in the implementation of various projects such as the Accelerated Coconut Planting and Replanting Project and the Participatory Coconut Planting Project.
The contract for the supply and delivery of 377,000 coconut seedlings amounting to P9.987 million in the Caraga Administrative Region was awarded in 2015 but despite two extensions, the supplier has only delivered P185,075 or 49.09 percent of the total seedlings.
“The delay in the delivery of the seedlings adversely affected the attainment of the objective of the program which is to increase coconut seedling planted,” the CoA said.
PCA management, meanwhile, said a notice to terminate has been served to the contractor.