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COTABATO CITY – Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Manny Piñol continues to unearth irregularities that has hounded the farming sector for quite some time.
Recently, Piñol got the shock of his life when he came across several unused farm equipment during one of his “Biyaheng Bukid” tours here.
Among those Piñol discovered during his inspection of the department’s compound in Tupi, South Cotabato were a good number of rice and corn harvesters and tractors which are all estimated to be worth at least P100 million.
“I felt my knees weakened as I toured the huge compound filled with agricultural equipment,” said Piñol, “While many farmers of Central Mindanao have to be content with using the slow- moving carabao to plow their rice fields, modern agriculture equipment worth over P100 million were left under the elements in the 35-hectare compound of the Department of Agriculture.”
It was learned that the previous administration had to put the equipment on hold after supposed beneficiaries failed to comply with the 15% payment of each equipment. The Agriculture Department, under its farm mechanization program, was to shoulder 85% of its total worth.
“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,” said Piñol.
Piñol disclosed he is now coordinating with DA lawyers to determine any administrative and/or criminal liabilities. (Ali G. Macabalang)