AGRICULTURE Secretary Proceso Alcala has dismissed a Commission on Audit (COA) report that his department allegedly mishandled some P759.1 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations for the farm sector, saying that “stable prices of commodities is more important than old, recycled news.”
Although he has yet to see the “latest” audit report supposedly released by the COA last Friday, Alcala said that the COA’s regular yearly audit on the Department of Agriculture (DA) for 2012 already made observations on the implementation of projects funded by PDAF.
Alcala stressed that the COA’s previous recommendations were followed, resulting in stricter qualification procedures for DA’s partner non-government organizations (NGOs).
“Still, we will look into the latest report of COA,” he said, adding that there is a possibility that it might be “recycled” news.
A COA report released last Friday said the DA was “ineffective and inadequate” in its handling of some P759.1 million in pork barrel from 28 lawmakers during fiscal years 2011-2012.
From 2011-2012, the DA received special allotment release orders for the said amount, which was used for the implementation of programs and projects to generate income opportunities for poor families identified by the legislators.
The DA chief, however, said that the PDAF report may be another ploy by unscrupulous individuals to divert the public’s attention from the more crucial initiatives—including efforts to ensure stable prices of commodities.
To recall, the DA together with the Department of Trade and Industry launched a massive price monitoring campaign against pork and chicken products in major markets in Metro Manila and nearby provinces to check retailers’ compliance with the suggested retail prices (SRP).
Alcala said that the inspection was also conducted to avoid price spikes and to ensure that there will be enough supply during the Christmas season and that similar inspections will again be conducted in other markets.
Officials from the said departments inspected Kamuning Market, Mega Q-Mart and Farmers’ Market. In Mega Q Mart, 11 violators were listed for selling overpriced chicken at P140 per kilo while 10 violators were listed for selling overpriced pork. The violators’ prices ranged from P185 per kilo for kasim and P195 to P210 per kilo for liempo.?
In Kamuning market, six stalls selling overpriced chicken were monitored, selling at P140-145 per kilo; 11 violators were recorded for selling pork kasim at P190 per kilo and selling liempo at P200 per kilo. Retailers in Farmers Market were compliant with the SRP for chicken pegged at P135 per kilo, and pork, at P175 per kilo for kasim and P185 per kilo for liempo.
The DA said it will conduct a comprehensive consultation with pork and poultry stakeholders every two weeks until the end of Christmas season, wherein all retailers, “viajeros,” and producers are invited. The first consultation with chicken and pork stakeholders was held two weeks ago.
The SRP for chicken and pork was determined through similar consultations with producers.
The middlemen will also be given a chance to explain their side thru the consultations every other week, but the DA warned middlemen who pass the products to retailers at prices higher than the SRP would face sanctions.
The consultations with middlemen will begin on Thursday, October 16, at 1 p.m. at the DA Central Office.
The DA wants farmgate prices and retail prices to be directly proportional for the benefit of both the producers and the consumers and sought everybody’s cooperation in addressing the price issues, saying that success can only be attained if the all stakeholders participate.