Senate to investigate DA deal for allegedly overpriced fertilizer

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 23 2020 10:53 AM | Updated as of Jun 23 2020 11:51 AM

MANILA - The Senate is set to investigate alleged irregularities in the Department of Agriculture's procurement of fertilizers when Congress resumes session next month, the head of the chamber's Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform said Tuesday.

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Several farmer groups from Pangasinan and Nueva Ecija have sought for the Senate's help, saying the DA bought fertilizer for P990 per bag when it was sold for only P850 in the market, Sen. Cynthia Villar told Failon Ngayon on TeleRadyo.

"Nung dumating 'yung letter... from Pangasinan at Nueva Ecija, it came after the break," Villar said.

(When the letter from Pangasinan and Nueva Ecija came, the Senate was already on a break.)

"Mafafile ko lang 'yung resolution pagbalik namin after ng SONA and then I will investigate the next week after," she said, referring to President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address on July 27, 2020.

(I can only file the resolution when we resume after the SONA and then I will investigate the next week after.)

The DA spent some P5.6 billion for the procurement of urea fertilizers, but government could have saved at least P250 million had it bought the fertilizers at P850 pesos per bag, Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) said in an earlier statement that flagged the alleged scheme.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar earlier defended the DA's decision to procure fertilizers for P990 per bag, saying the prevailing price for March and April was between P1,043 and P1,060 pesos per bag.

Villar said her committee would also look into how the DA has been applying research in actual farming, noting that the percentage of soil degradation affects the yield of farmers.

"Ang laki-laki ng budget sa research. Okay lang ang research but there should be an application kasi parang natatapos sila sa research. Hindi naman nila naa-apply sa daily lives ng farmers," she said.

(The budget for research is so big. It's okay to do research but there should be an application because it seems that even if they conclude the research, they still cannot apply it to the daily lives of farmers.)

"Hindi ko ayaw ng research pero 'yung research na walang application, 'yun ang masama," she said.

(I am not against research, but research without application is not a good thing.)