Bongbong’s humility (5)

The fascinating, long-involved incidents that followed were a drama, an epic struggle, similar to the happenings in France in 1789 where there was a looming shortage of grains due to poor harvest caused by lack of fertilizer and the fear that there would be starvation.

The period from 2010 to 2015 was the darkest and most chaotic time in the accounts, financial transactions, and operations of the Department of Agriculture or DA.

The events that transpired during this period affected the lives of the farmers, the fisherfolk, rural workers, and the entire Filipino nation to the amazement of the rice and food-producing countries of China, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and others.

These events illustrate how Bongbong Marcos should not administer the DA if he intends to realize his dream “that no Filipino will ever suffer hunger” during and after his term.

The agencies and actors involved were the Department of Budget and Management led by Butch Abad; the Department of Agriculture led by Proceso Alcala; the Commission on Audit led by Grace Pulido Tan and Heidi Mendoza; and the National Agribusiness Corporation or NABCOR, whose two executives were recently sentenced by the Sandiganbayan to 40 years in prison for graft and malversation of public funds.

The fascinating, long-involved incidents that followed were a drama, an epic struggle, similar to the happenings in France in 1789 where there was a looming shortage of grains due to a poor harvest caused by a lack of fertilizer and the fear that there would be starvation. The French stormed the Fort of Bastille which led to its fall on 14 July 1789, and the ensuing revolution.

The Department of Agriculture is the main agency of the Philippine government responsible for the promotion of agricultural development.

On 30 June 2010, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III appointed Proceso J. Alcala as DA secretary.

On 25 August 2011, the auditor of the DA reported that due to the materiality of misstatements in the accounts, the financial statements did not present fairly the financial position of the Department as of 31 December 2010, and as a result, its operation and cash flow for the year ended were contrary to applicable generally accepted accounting principles.

The audit ratings were all similarly adverse, if not the same, from the calendar year ending 31 December 2010 to 31 December 2015. There were always misstatements of accounts and there were always no statements of comparison of budget and actual accounts.

In general, the direction of executive actions in the DA was money, and their activities were machinated toward stealing the money. To hide their misdeeds, they misstated the accounts and financial statements and never did submit statements of comparison of budget and actual accounts. Typical adverse entries in the audit report included unrecorded collections, deposits, interest income, unliquidated cash advances, and double recording of liquidation.

Significant and adverse to the main objective of reducing the cost of production that would lead to reducing the prices of food was the non-implementation of the farm-to-market road development program FMRDP and the loss of P45.969 billion, appropriated therefore, for calendar years 2010 to 2016.

For one year alone, the objectives of ten projects of the Department of Agriculture, Office of the Secretary, three staff bureaus, and 16 regional field units costing P41.803 billion aimed ultimately at reducing the cost of production and prices of food products were a total failure. The money advanced allegedly to farmers, fisherfolk, and rural workers was not recovered due to utter dishonesty and inefficiency.

In 2014 alone, the DA’s mandate of empowering the agriculture and fisheries sector by providing transport facilities for the farmers and fisherfolk through the repair, rehabilitation, and construction of farm-to-market roads or FMRs with an aggregate allocation of P3.2 billion was not achieved due to the wrong identification of the location of the FMRs and non-preparation of the FMR Network Plan in DA-CAR. Isn’t that a bit funny and costly? (To be continued)


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