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Mar 8, 2016 @ 4:24

Most scams found in DA: Diokno

Former budget secretary Benjamin Diokno said the next administration should protect the agriculture sector from grafters who prey on its funds.

Diokno, in his column in Malaya Business Insight, said most of the scams took place in the agriculture sector, like the overimportation of rice, the fertilizer and the irrigation scams, and most of the Napoles scams.

There are allegations that a big chunk of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) went to doubtful disbursements by the agriculture department and its attached corporations, he added.

“Agriculture is such an important sector to be left unprotected from the wicked claws of corrupt and greedy politicians and bureaucrats,” he said.

He added that the next head of the Department of Agriculture should be an agriculture expert, instead of a politician.

Diokno said the agriculture sector performed poorly under the Aquino administration due to the “misguided” campaign for rice self-sufficiency and the misuse of DAP funds.

He said the Philippines is better off focusing on high value crops instead of rice because it cannot compete with Thailand, Vietnam or even Cambodia.

He also said the Commission on Audit should not spare anyone in its investigation of the DAP.

Diokno said despite the infusion of P260 billion from 2011 to 2015 in the agriculture sector (excluding the budget for the National Food Authority), it grew by a mere 1.6 percent on the average, second only to its 0.8 percent growth during the Ramos administration.

He said the agriculture sector performed the best at 6.5 percent average growth during the truncated term of former president Joseph Estrada.

From 1986 to 2016, he said the sector grew only at a rate about equal to the population growth.

Under the Aquino administration, Diokno said agriculture spending was “erratic,” starting from a cutback of 6.5 percent in 2011 followed by a ballooning by 73.52 percent in 2012, and later peaking to P66.3 billion.

However, he said the sector’s output was still “anemic” – from less than 3 percent of overall economic growth in 2011 and 2012, before plunging to 1.1 percent in 2013.


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