Alcala: There is no 'Quezon mafia'

by Kathlyn dela Cruz,

Posted at Jan 16 2014 10:53 PM | Updated as of Jan 17 2014 05:40 PM

'Argee Guevarra just wants to destroy my name'

MANILA -- Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala on Thursday cried foul over lawyer Argee Guevarra's repeated accusation that he and some of his associates are members of the so-called "Quezon mafia."

He said Guevarra only wants to destroy his name.

Speaking to radio dzMM on Thursday, Alcala said he believes Guevarra wants him to lose focus on his job as chief of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

"Si Argee ay nanggugulo lang. I think ang primary purpose po [niya] ay para po ako'y ma-out of focus dun sa ginagawa ko sa Department of Agriculture," he said.

"Wala pong ibang ginawa kundi siraan ako ng personal," he added.

Alcala said it is "unfair" to tag him and some of his associates, including DA Assistant Secretary Ed de Luna, National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Orlan Calayag and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director Asis Perez, as members of a "mafia" since they do their job well.

"Mafia po kung ang ginagawa is illegal, but ang ginagawa po ay nakakatulong sa pagpapatakbo ng pamahalaan ay foul naman po, kawawa naman," he said.

Plunder complaints

In an earlier interview, Guevarra revealed that he is finalizing another plunder complaint against Alcala and other "Quezon mafia" members in connection with P11.4 billion in unaccounted funds at the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR).

NABCOR is an attached agency of the DA where Alcala serves as ex-officio chairman.

Citing a report by the Commission on Audit (COA), Guevarra said some P5.6 billion in NABCOR funds were unaccounted for from 2009 to 2011.

From 2012 to 2013, NABCOR released P5.8 billion, P800 million of which have yet to be liquidated, he added.

But Alcala disputed the allegations, saying that these are impossible since a notice of disallowance had been issued against NABCOR.

"Papano po magkakaroon ng ganun? Eh may notice of disallowance na po yan. So kahit po anong pondo na manggaling sa regular budget ng DA ay hindi po pwedeng i-allow," he said.

He also said this is the first time that he knew of the said COA report.

On December 17 last year, Guevarra, president of Sanlakas party-list group, filed a plunder complaint against Alcala and Calayag in connection with the alleged overpricing of Vietnam rice imports.

Guevarra said the NFA, being the sole importer of rice, is able to earn large kickbacks from favored rice importers and traders.

Alcala also disputed the allegation and claimed that it is actually Guevarra who is coddling rice smugglers in the country.

"Siya po ang pakawala ng rice smugglers. They want to discredit me, the people I bring along kasi po pag na-discredit nila ako, ako po yung maalis sa posisyon. At buhay na naman po ang kanilang [rice smuggling]," he said.

With all the allegations hurled at him, Alcala said he will not resign as DA chief as he still has the trust of President Benigno Aquino III.

"Magkausap po kaming personal at patuloy po siyang naniniwala sa akin," he said.