Piñol orders internal audit upon discovery of rusting P100M agri equipment in DA’s South Cotabato compound
Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol has ordered the Department of Agriculture’s Internal Audit Service to investigate the circumstance behind the P100 million worth of modern agriculture equipment left to rust in the department’s compound in Tupi, South Cotabato.
“Today, I have directed the Internal Audit Service, retired Phil. Marines Colonel Danny Luna, to come up with a report on this misuse of government funds and assets,” Piñol said in a statement.
Piñol visited the Tupi compound on his way to General Santos City from Koronadal and was distressed upon seeing the equipment just left under the elements. He said some of the units were bought by government four years ago but the more expensive multi-million peso rice and corn harvesters and tractors are just about a year old.
“What I saw gave me a mixed feeling of anger and pity,” Piñol said. He already relieved the regional director of the area, former DA regional director Amalisa Datukan, right after his assumption into office.
Piñol said OIC director Carlene Collada who is currently manning the post said the machinery was not distributed to farmers because the farmers couldn’t come up with the 15-percent cash equity that the department required from them as counterpart. Collado is keeping the seat warm for incoming regional director Milagros Casis whose papers have yet to be signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The 15-percent equity from farmers will be given to the dealer of the equipment to complete payment and is among the requirements in the guidelines issued by the former administration as the DA was supposed to pay for only 85 percent of the equipment and the farmers, 15 percent.
“Honestly, I do not understand why farmers would have to be asked to make the complete payment for machineries procured by the government. The government does not procure on installment or partial payment process,” Piñol said.
Piñol has ordered the immediate rehabilitation and repair of the units for distribution to farmers or local government units and has asked the department’s lawyers to determine the administrative and criminal liability of the officials behind the procurement and nondistribution of the equipment.
“I believe that by keeping the equipment and machineries in the compound unused for a long period of time, government was defrauded of the value of money it spent in buying the said equipment. Worse, farmers were also deprived of 1 to 4 years of increased productivity which could have been achieved had the equipment and machineries were released earlier,” Piñol said. “Any which way, it is altogether wrong and immoral.”