PCA chief linked to graft, suspended
Another appointee of President Duterte has been linked to corruption-related activities.
Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Administrator Avelino “Billy” Andal was suspended last week by the PCA governing board chaired by Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. in connection with alleged irregularities in coco lumber cutting and transport permits.
“Upon deliberation of recent events involving the administrator, the board unanimously agrees that investigation is warranted,” read the PCA board resolution dated March 15.
“In accordance with civil service rules, preventive suspension is imposed as a means of enabling the disciplining authority to conduct an unhampered investigation,” it added.
The resolution did not say how long Andal will be suspended.
Andal said he would not recognize the “bogus” order and would continue to function as PCA administrator and ex-officio vice chair of the PCA governing board even as he denied having been involved in the alleged extortion racket of two of his staff members.
“This (suspension order) is an evil scheme against the administrator and the President of the Republic,” Andal told a news conference.
Evasco’s subordinate, Undersecretary Helman Valdez, who reportedly acts as PCA board chair on his behalf, announced Andal’s suspension during the flag ceremony.
Andal, who was not allowed to speak during the flag ceremony, later accused Valdez of orchestrating his ouster.
Andal headed the Rodrigo Duterte Volunteer Foundation during the election campaign. He was appointed PCA administrator in November.
He is the third presidential appointee who has lately faced complaints of corruption, after Tourism Promotions Board Chair Cesar Montano and resigned National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Administrator Peter Laviña.
In a statement, Andal claimed his suspension order was part of a “wide-ranging conspiracy” to oust appointees in government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), particularly the NIA, National Food Authority and National Housing Authority.
He claimed these vested groups wanted to control GOCCs with big-ticket infrastructure projects, including the coconut levy fund.
Four out of six board members—Edicio dela Torre, Romulo dela Rosa and Alan Tanjuakio—and board chair Evasco signed his suspension order. Board member Ponciano Batugal did not sign the resolution.
All PCA board members were appointed by Mr. Duterte except for Dela Torre.
Andal said he did not order the extra collection of fees on coco lumber cutting and transport permits allegedly done by two of his staff members, reportedly amounting to millions of pesos.