• Peasant group links agrarian chief to ‘missing’ P230M

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    AGRARIAN Reform Secretary Virgilio Delos Reyes, according to the militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pili-pinas (KMP), cannot evade accountability from the plunder of P230 million of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel fund funneled to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

    “We are holding Secretary Delos Reyes equally responsible and criminally liable in the plunder of more than P230 million of public funds in the DAR,” Antonio Flores, the group’s secretary general, said in a statement released on Friday.

    Recent reports said that P230 million from the pork barrel funds went to 16 fake non-government organizations in 2011 through agreements to distribute agricultural livelihood packages forged between local government units and DAR undersecretaries Narciso Nieto, Jerry Pacturan and Perry Felix Villanueva.

    The report also said that the DAR releases included funding initiatives made by Senators Gregorio Honasan 2nd (P100 million) and Jinggoy Estrada (P50 million) approved by Senate President Franklin Drilon who was then chair of the Senate finance committee.

    But KMP’s Flores said that “knowing how Secretary Delos Reyes runs the DAR, he is a “hands on secretary.”

    “Knowing how Secretary Delos Reyes runs the DAR, he is a “hands on secretary.” In fact, Delos Reyes is the main actor in the whole process of sham distribution of Hacienda Luisita and is acting in defense of the Cojuangco-Aquino’s land-grabbing in Tarlac province. It is highly impossible that he doesn’t know anything about the crime,” Flores said.

    De los Reyes, in recent reports, said the probe into the P230 million racket would determine how these non-government organizations with dubious background and tainted record during the past administration were able to access funds on his watch.

    “We want to know who are the persons responsible for these releases. We also want to know where these funds were sourced,” Flores said.

    “Delos Reyes cannot wash his hands off and exonerate himself in the plunder of millions of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program funds by simply initiating a so-called investigation,” the peasant leader added.

    Neil A. Alcober

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