In 2005, the Department of Agriculture (DA) became the center of national attention when some P700 million of its funds intended for fertilizer ended up in the pockets of several politicians and government officials.
Today, the DA is once more in the limelight following allegations that a big chunk of the P10 billion pork barrel released by lawmakers went to bogus agencies of Janet Napoles that is registered and duly accredited by the said agency.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala was quick to blame his assistant secretary, Ofelia Agawin, for the accreditation of the fake NGOs at DA. His undersecretary, Antonio Fleta, is being blamed for the release of the pork barrel of lawmakers to several dummy corporations of Napoles, the so called “pork barrel queen.”
Surprisingly, Agawin and Fleta were not suspended by Alcala.
The DA’s involvement in the pork barrel scam is just one problem that Alcala has to answer.
Other problems such the nepotism in the agency, smuggling of onions and garlic and questionable rice price increases have to be explained by the agriculture chief, not to mention the three graft cases pending before the Office of the Ombudsman and two more before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Alcala.
If Secretary Alcala still has “delicadeza,” he should go on leave to avoid influencing the investigation.
However, it seems the man does not it.
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Almost everyone made money from PDAF
The public’s suspicion that not only three senators are involved in the pork barrel scam but almost all members of the Senate and House of Representatives may be true after all.
The lawyer of Janet Napoles, Lorna Kapunan, told Radyo 5 last Thursday that almost everyone in the Senate made money out of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Kapunan, presumably speaking based on her client’s confession, said that the scam also involves almost every member of the House.
Worse, even members of the Aquino Cabinet also made millions of pesos out of the people’s money, according to Kapunan.
One can’t help but wonder why Senate President Franklin Drilon refuses to sign the subpoena for Napoles to appear before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee inquiry on the pork barrel scam despite the repeated prodding of Sen. Teofisto Guingona.
Is Drilon afraid that Napoles will spill the beans that will shock the nation?
The suspicion that even allies of Malacanang and some Cabinet members are also involved in this fund mess will persist in the public’s mind unless Napoles will be given a chance to talk to clear those who are innocent and unmask those who made a fortune out of the people’s money.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s sentiments that the Commission on Audit (COA) report accusing him and two other senators of misusing their PDAF is selective may have basis after all.
For heaven’s sake, let Napoles talk!