Hearing set on Malampaya fund mess
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The chair of the provincial board’s agriculture committee plans to call a public hearing to help clear the names of residents of Masantol, Pampanga, who denied receiving aid from a project funded by the government’s shares in royalties from the Malampaya gas project in Palawan.
“I will call for a public hearing, as soon as possible, so I can help my constituents in Masantol,” Board Member Ricardo Yabut told the Inquirer on Sunday.
The committee used to be chaired by Board Member Tarcicio Halili who died in October. Yabut also represents the fourth district in the board. Masantol is one of the eight towns in the fourth district.
Yabut said the committee would invite the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to shed light on the agency’s Farming Yield Emergency Contingency Project.
A July 13 letter by Director Susan Garcia of the Commission on Audit’s Special Audits Office (COA-SAO) to supposed beneficiaries said the DAR transferred funds to Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. (KMFI), which supposedly distributed the agricultural input package.
Worth P35,781 each, these consisted of a heavy-duty sprayer, organized container, agricultural paraphernalia, gloves, various seeds and seedlings.
With about 2,500 recipients, the project could be worth P89.2 million, documents showed.
Several fishermen alerted the Inquirer about what they described as a possible scam because they did not get any package and that their signatures on the list sent to them by the COA-SAO were falsified.
They reported about Garcia’s letter only on Friday, having recovered these from items secured from floods last August.
Masantol Mayor Peter Flores and barangay captains would be invited to attend the public hearing, Yabut said.
Pampanga Rep. Anna York Bondoc, who represents the fourth district, did not answer calls and text messages inquiring if her office had a role in the project.
Former Vice Mayor Marcelo Lacap Jr. said he was not easily taking the claim of Flores that the project was not coordinated with the mayor’s office.
“The hearing should identify who provided the DAR or KMFI with the lists of names of beneficiaries,” Lacap said.
He said the supposed recipients were ready to testify in the public hearing so they could relay to the COA-SAO their request to be removed from the list and be freed from liability in the project.
The COA 2010 report showed that from 2002 to 2010, P23.601 billion of the Malampaya funds were released to various government agencies and to the province of Palawan, an Inquirer story in 2011 showed.
National government agencies received P19.643 billion, and only 1.27 percent of this went to the Department of Energy for the electrification of 211 villages.
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