Solons seek probe into DA’s alleged overpriced procurement of fertilizer
MANILA, Philippines — The Makabayan bloc has filed a resolution seeking an investigation on the alleged overpriced fertilizer procured by the Department of Agriculture (DA).
House Resolution No. 992 — a copy of which was provided to the media on Tuesday — directs the House committee on agriculture and food, and the committee on good government and public accountability to conduct the probe in aid of legislation.
Under the resolution, lawmakers said the agriculture department conducted bidding for over 1.8 million bags of urea fertilizers for P1.8 billion or P1,000 per bag.
The fertilizers are for DA’s Rice Resiliency Program which seeks to increase the country’s rice production from 87 percent to 93 percent by the end of 2020.
However, the lawmakers said this could be overpriced by at least P271.66 million, citing farmers from Tarlac and Nueva Ecija who said that the prevailing average price of urea is only at around P850 per bag.
“Farmers said recent purchases of urea fertilizer showed a bag could fetch for P830 in Tarlac, P810 in Pangasinan, and P840 in Nueva Ecija,” the lawmakers said.
Citing a recent monitoring of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, average prevailing price per bag of urea since last month has not changed and are as follows:
Tarlac – P850
Nueva Ecja – P830 to P870
Isabela – P880 to P1,100
Quirino – P1,080
Camarines Sur – P1,000
Iloilo – P880
South Cotabato – P850
Agusan del Sur – P950
Davao City – P800
Davao de Oro – P1,000
“This issue on the alleged overpriced fertilizer further raised suspicion because news reports stated that the winning bidder La Filipina, does not also have available stocks of urea fertilizers nor has it shown any bill of lading to prove that it had an incoming supply of urea fertilizers and yet it still bagged the contract,” the lawmakers said.
“DA must have the sense to put on hold and/or suspend the succeeding bidding for the procurement of an additional P3/8 billion worth of fertilizer until the questionable bidding and procurement of the P1.8 billion fertilizer is given clarity,” they added.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar has previously denied the allegations, saying that they based the bidding price on the price monitoring of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, an agency under the DA, and that other costs have been incorporated in the final cost.
The resolution was signed by Bayan Muna representatives Eufemia Cullamat, Carlos Isagani Zarate, and Ferdinand Gaite; Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas; ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro; and Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Jane Elago.
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