Gabriela Womens Party Representative Liza Maza yesterday sought clarification from Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap on the Department on Budget and Management’s fund releases amounting to P897M which was awarded to the Department of Agriculture at the height of the deliberation of the impeachment case filed against President Arroyo.
“There may be something fishy going on here. It is highly suspicious that Department of Agriculture received fund allocations which were not part of the budget originally approved by Congress for the department in the GAA,” said Maza
Maza noted the following fund releases in the 2007 Commission on Audit report on the Department of Agriculture:
• 70M released last November 12, 2007 for the Barangay Food Terminal and Bagsakan Center Project.
• 800M released last November 19, 2007 for the Accelerated Hunger Mitigation Program. This fund release did not entail any request from the DA and was automatically transferred to Regional Field Units.
• 27.5M released last November 19, 2007, for the Operational requirements of the Agno River Integrated Project. This was released despite the absence of any fund requests from the DA.
The P897M is but part of a total of P4.3B questionable fund releases from February to December 2007 uncovered by the COA.
The Gabriela solon recalls that the House of Representatives rejected supplemental impeachment complaints meant to add substance to the sham complaint filed by lawyer Ruel Pulido last November 7, 2007. The Committee on Justice dismissed the impeachment complaint against President Arroyo last November 14, 2007 while the plenary voted to reject the same complaint by affirming the Committee report in the plenary on November 26, 2007. “It can also be recalled that it was during this period that cash gifts were reportedly handed out left and right in Malacanang breakfast meetings and LGU consultations.”
“The COA has noted that there was no way for them to validate the actual applications of the fund allocations due to the absence of detailed activities and reports on the project outputs. The DA needs to clarify these fund allocations and report in detail on the regions and provinces where they have been allocated and who actually benefited from these projects. We need to know whether these funds have indeed been used for its supposed purpose.” #