ZAMBOANGA CITY—The operation of the ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC) remains a big puzzle to the regional director of the Department of Agriculture in Western Mindanao.
“I was a graduate of agriculture from ZNAC (the Zamboanga del Norte Agricultural College) in 1980 and now I am the regional director of the agriculture department but my knowledge is very limited as far as who runs (ZREC) and how it is being run,” said Eduardo Holoyohoy in a phone interview.
ZREC, a government-owned and -controlled corporation (GOCC) organized in 1984, operates a rubber estate in Zamboanga del Norte (not Zamboanga Sibugay as earlier reported). ZREC leased the land from ZNAC for a period of 50 years.
ZREC was thrust into the limelight when it emerged last week that it was the recipient of P201 million in pork barrel funds from Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. and former Buhay party-list Rep. Rene Velarde.
A Commission on Audit (COA) report said the four lawmakers were the sources of the P206 million in priority development assistance fund (PDAF) money that was earmarked for the Department of Agriculture (DA) and released in several tranches in 2009 and 2010.
Of the P206 million, P201 million was turned over by the DA to ZREC, which in turn transferred P194.97 million to an allegedly bogus nongovernment organization, the Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc., that is supposedly helping farmers in the provinces.
According to Holoyohoy, the state-owned ZNAC, now known as the Jose Rizal Memorial College in Tampilisan, Zamboanga del Norte, had subleased some 1,000 hectares of land from the Bagong Lipunang Livelihood project of then first lady Imelda Marcos in 1978.
He said “only 500 hectares were developed into a rubber plantation.”
Holoyohoy said it was only recently that he was informed that the plantation, “which has been there for a long time and in fact has been programmed for rehabilitation,” was being run by the National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor). ZREC is a subsidiary of Nabcor.
Holoyohoy said Nabcor’s directors were mostly from the DA central office in Manila. Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao