- DA Secretary uncovered P100M worth of farm equipment rusting inside gov’t compound
- They were left there after the farmers could not afford to pay 15 percent of the price
- He has ordered the equipment to be fixed and given to the farmers
- Piñol said he will also look into whether past DA officials will be held liable
MANILA, Philippines – Department of Agriculture Manny Piñol could barely hide his disgust as he blasted officials of the past administration for letting P100 million worth of modern farm equipment go to waste.
On his Facebook, Piñol said he discovered the equipment rusting away inside the department’s compound in Tupi, South Cotabato after conducting a tour on Monday, July 18, 2016. According to him, the machines were bought by the government 1-4 years ago but had never been used once.
“I felt my knees weakened as I toured the huge compound filled with agricultural equipment asking regional DA officials why the farm machineries have not been distributed to the farmers or farmers groups,” he wrote.
Piñol then said he was told by the region’s OIC Director Carlene Collado that the machines were not distributed to the farmers because they could not afford to pay the 15 percent downpayment. The setup, she explained, was issued by former Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.
“Honestly, I do not understand why farmers would have to be asked to make the complete payment for machineries procured by the government,” Piñol wrote in reply. “The government does not procure on installment or partial payment process.”
Piñol said he has already tapped his department’s legal counsel and contacted Internal Audit Service Director Danny Luna to probe into the possible misuse of government funds.
The DA Secretary added he has ordered the repair of the machines and their immediate distribution to the farmers.
“I believe that by keeping the equipment and machineries in the compound unused for a long period of time, government was defrauded of the value of money it spent in buying the said equipment,” he said. “Worse, farmers were also deprived of 1 to 4 years of increased productivity which could have been achieved had the equipment and machineries been released earlier.”
While many farmers of Central Mindanao have to be content with using the slow moving carabao to plow their rice fields, modern agriculture equipment worth over P100-M have been left under the elements in the 35-hectare compound of the Dept. of Agriculture in Tupi, South Cotabato.
Some of the equipment units were bought by the government as long as four years ago while the more expensive ones, including multi-million peso rice and corn harvesters and tractors are about a year old.
I visited the compound yesterday on my way to Gen. Santos City from Koronadal City, South Cotabato where I and two other department secretaries – DILG Sec. Mike Sueno and Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana – were guests during the province’s foundation anniversary.
What I saw gave me a mixed feeling of anger and pity.
I felt my knees weakened as I toured the huge compound filled with agricultural equipment asking regional DA officials why the farm machineries have not been distributed to the farmers or farmers groups.
Of course, the person who could have given me the answer, former DA Regional Director Amalia Datukan, was no longer there since right after my assumption as Secretary of Agriculture, I immediately relieved her.
The OIC Director Carlene Collado who is manning the regional post until the appointment papers of the incoming Regional Director Milagros Casis are signed by President Rody Duterte, said that the machineries were not distributed because the farmers could not come up with a 15% cash equity which the DA required from them as their counterpart.
When I asked to whom should the 15% cash equity go to, Collado said it was supposed to go to the dealer of the equipment to complete the payment.
Collado said that in the guidelines issued by former Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, the farmers or farmers group was supposed to shoulder 15% of the cost of the equipment with the DA paying for 85%.
Honestly, I do not understand why farmers would have to be asked to make the complete payment for machineries procured by the government.
The government does not procure on installment or partial payment process.
Today, I have directed the Internal Audit Service, retired Phil. Marines Colonel Danny Luna, to come up with a report on this misuse of government funds and assets.
In the meantime, I have directed that the equipment be immediately rehabilitated, repaired and repainted and distributed to the farmers or local government units.
I will also ask lawyers of the department to study this case and determine the administrative and criminal liability of the officials behind the procurement and non-distribution of these machineries.
I believe that by keeping the equipment and machineries in the compound unused for a long period of time, government was defrauded of the value of money it spent in buying the said equipment.
Worse, farmers were also deprived of 1 to 4 years of increased productivity which could have been achieved had the equipment and machineries been released earlier.
Any which way, it is altogether wrong and immoral.