Pamalakaya wants probe on missing ice-making machines
MANILA, Philippines—The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday asked Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima to order an investigation on the 97 missing ice-making machines worth P455 million purchased during the term of former president and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“This case of missing ice-making machines was first brought to the attention of incumbent Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. However the Agriculture chief has yet to reply to this official inquiry from our group,” Pamalakaya said in a letter submitted to the DoJ.
The militant fisherfolk group urged De Lima to create a panel or instruct the National Bureau of Investigation to determine the location of 97 out of the 98 ice-making machines which were purchased between September 2009 and June 2010.
On Sept. 2, 2009, the Arroyo government approved the procurement of 98 ice-making machines, which was awarded to the Integrated Refrigeration System and Services (IRSS).
The purchase of the ice-making machines was part of the heightened Department of Agriculture’s program to build post-harvest facilities for farmers and fisherfolk, along with other agriculture sector stakeholders.
Critics of the Arroyo government claimed that the transaction was tainted with gross irregularities.
The group said the transaction was “extremely disadvantageous to the government” because the per unit cost of ice-making machine was overpriced by 100 percent or P 4.6 million from the standard price of P 2.3 million.
The group said out of the 98 ice making machines, only one was delivered despite the promise of completion by June 2010.
The ice making machine, which is using the new brine immersion freezing (BIF) technology, was placed in the district of Secretary Proceso Alcala in Sampaloc Village 2 in Sariaya, Quezon.
“There were no reports or confirmation that the rest of the 97 machines were delivered and distributed to target beneficiaries — the small fisherfolk and other rural producers across the country,” Pamalakaya said.
The BIF technology, unlike conventional ice-making machines, could store agricultural produce like fish, meat, leafy vegetables, and fruits in sealed Styrofoam foam boxes for two to three days without ice.
It would only take as little as three to 30 minutes (depending on type, size, and volume of product to be processed) to freeze a product using BIF, compared to the conventional method, which would take three to four hours.
A plunder case has already been filed against the former president and other officials before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.