PNoy still backs DA chief


Posted at Mar 19 2014 12:41 PM | Updated as of Mar 19 2014 08:56 PM

MANILA - President Aquino on Wednesday said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala still has his confidence despite allegations linking him to smuggling and the pork barrel scam.

The militant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas has accused Alcala of being the number one protector and beneficiary of rice smugglers.

He also alleged Alcala has his own empire of fake non-government organizations, which were used to plunder agricultural funds.

Aquino said he has to weigh the criticisms against Alcala and his accomplishments. He credited Alcala for stabilizing rice prices even without additional imports.

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"Siguro binabalance ko mga nagawa niya. For instance, pag-usapan natin bigas. Pinangako sa atin dapat last year nung dumating si [super typhoon] Yolanda, nagkaron ng debate kung dapat ba tayo mag-import kung tama sinasabi ng DA so up to sept 2013 stable yung presyo ng bigas and di tayo pumayag na dagdagan import na lagpas sa mungkahi ng DA. So stability ng presyo, tama yung sinasabi ng DA, yun ay galing sa trabaho ni Secretary Alcala," he said.

Malacanang earlier asked the Department of Agriculture to respond to Commission on Audit (COA) findings that Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers were coursed through the National Agribusiness Corp. (NABCOR).

Two former NABCOR officials, an agency under the DA, have revealed widespread irregularities at the agency amounting to billions of pesos in agricultural funds.

Speaking to ABS-CBN News, they said these irregularities range from the misuse of the "Ginintuang Masaganang Ani" and pork barrel funds in the past to the hiring of ghost employees in the present administration.

Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said the allegations of the ex-NABCOR officials cites the 2012-2013 COA report.

"The Department of Agriculture is required to explain the findings of such report and inform COA of actions taken to address such findings. Ipaubaya na lang muna natin sa Department of Agriculture na sagutin 'yung mga findings na nakasaad doon sa COA audit report na pinagbatayan ng mga alegasyon na 'yan."