Alcala blames politics for graft raps

By Dharel Placido, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Feb 05 2013 01:09 PM | Updated as of Feb 05 2013 09:09 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala believes that the graft and falsification charges filed against him are politically motivated.

In a complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, Ramon Talaga Jr. accused Alcala of misappropriating P3.5 million worth of priority development assistance fund (PDAF) when he was still a member of Congress.

Talaga said the funds, released in 2008, did not reach the hands of the marginalized farming families under the Sir Pelagio Alcantara Development (Spade) Foundation Inc.

Alcala, for his part, said the timing of the filing of complaint is suspect, with the elections just three months away. He also belied Talaga's claim that the farmers did not benefit from the funds.

"'Iyan po ay usaping pulitikal... 2008 pa ito, tapos ngayon biglang may lumabas na ganyan kasi po panahon ng pulitika," Alcala told radio dzMM on Tuesday.

"Ito nga ang nakapag-pabago ng buhay ng napakaraming pamilya sa amin. Ito ang naging dahilan kung bakit naging sekretaryo ako ng kagawaran. Up to now tuloy-tuloy ang pagpapagamit at pagpapatuloy ng tulong sa magsasaka sa aming lalawigan sa mga nagsisipagtanim."

Talaga is running for the mayoral post of Lucena in May against Alcala's nephew, incumbent mayor Roderick Alcala.

Late last year, Roderick Alcala replaced Talaga's wife Barbara Ruby as mayor following the issuance of the writ of execution by the Supreme Court (SC).

Barbara Ruby was ousted following a decision by the Commission on Elections en banc to annul her proclamation.

She filed a motion for reconsideration but the SC finally denied the motion with finality on November 13.