The congressional allies of former president Gloria Arroyo are pushing the resignation of Secretary Proceso Alcala of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for his alleged role in granting P89.2 million from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus organizations belonging to Janet Napoles.
Representatives Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of Leyte, Jonathan dela Cruz of Abakada and Aleta Suarez of Quezon made the call on Monday—the same day that former sen. Panfilo Lacson revealed that at least two more senators will be charged in connection with the P10-billion PDAF scheme that benefited Napoles-owned nongovernment NGOs.
At least 38 people face plunder and other graft-related charges before the Office of the Ombudsman, including Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. who also serves as the chairman of the Lakas-CMD.
“Out of delicadeza, Secretary Alcala should resign and give way for an in-depth inquiry in connection with the release of the P89.2 million pork barrel funds that were downloaded to bogus NGOs of Napoles. There are so many issues that remain unresolved. He can’t stay since this will affect the credibility of the institution,” Romualdez, the president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), pointed out.
He said the Aquino administration won’t run short of choices for Agriculture secretary because one of the ruling Liberal Party’s (LP) stalwarts and former sen. Francis Pangilinan is an able replacement.
Pangilinan, the former chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, was a former ally of former president Arroyo. The LP was split into two factions in 2005 in the aftermath of the Hello Garci scandal.
Pangilinan joined the Drilon wing which went against the Arroyo administration.
The Hello Garci controversy was the first litmus test for the second term of Arroyo because it featured an audio recording of her conversation with Commission on Elections Commissioner Virgilio at the height of the counting of votes during the 2004 polls.
“There are other talented people who can best serve the DA with credibility, like former senator Pangilinan,” Romualdez said.
Dela Cruz said it is baffling that the Department of Agriculture kept bragging about rice sufficiency but has admitted that it will import 100,000 metric tons of rice for 2013.
“At the very least, Secretary Alcala should take a leave of absence because he is not helping the DA anymore. Instead of working and championing the interests of the people, he is very busy defending his name from various controversies,” dela Cruz said.
“I hope Secretary Alcala is sensitive to the call of the people. He should leave the DA and submit himself to investigation,” Suarez said.