FORMER Department of Agriculture-Region XII director Amalia Datukan on Wednesday debunked the claim of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol that more than P100-million farm machinery and equipment were left rusting at its compound in Tupi, South Cotobato.
Datukan explained that the distribution of the machines and equipment was suspended because of the election ban this year, which prohibits them from disbursing public funds and implementing pro-jects.
“May I invite Secretary Manny Piñol to please notice that only a few units and small equipment were old and most of the units, especially the big tractors, were deliveries this year [February] 2016,” she said.
Datukan added that farmers’ associations, who were recipients of the units, were not immediately able to produce the 15 percent counterpart payment because of the effect of El Niño on their harvests
In fact, she said, they were scheduled to release the units on the last week of June for those who were ready for the counterpart.
Director Roy Abaya, however, advised to suspend the releases until further instructions, according to Datukan.
Piñol was dismayed to discover the equipment at the DA-Region 12 compound during his visit to the province recently, saying many farmers in Central Mindanao still use the slow-moving carabao in plow-ing their rice fields, yet modern agriculture equipment were left rusting.
The machinery and farm equipment were part of a farm mechanization program implemented through counterparting scheme where the DA shoulders 85 percent of the cost, while the qualified recipients pay the 15 percent.
Pinol said he has directed Officer-in-Charge Director Carlene Collado that the equipment be immedi-ately rehabilitated, repaired and repainted and distributed to the farmers or local government units.
To help farmers pay the cost of the machines, he scrapped the 15:85 counterparting scheme and pro-posed the 50:50 sharing of bill, of which 50 percent of the beneficiaries’ share will be paid in four years.