Author Topic: Yap had initiated probe of C.O.A. - reported Swine Program fraud  (Read 1536 times)

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April 2, 2008

Secretary Arthur Yap of the Department of Agriculture called for an investigation into the controversial swine program of the Quedan and Rural Credit Guarantee Corp. following his reappointment as DA chief in 2006, that force the former Quedancor president to take a leave of absence and the filing of a "gross mismanagement" case against him before the Office of the Ombudsman
This was revealed yesterday by DA Undersecretary Bernie Fondevilla in denying the alleged involvement of Yap in this Quedancor controversy, noting that the irregularities uncovered by the Commission on Audit (COA) took place when Yap's predecessor, Luis "Cito" Lorenzo Jr., was at the helm of the agriculture department.
Fondevilla, chief of staff of Yap and executive director of the National Agricultural and Fisheries Council (NAFC), said Yap had sought an investigation of the Quedancor Management Committee based on the same COA report that is now being cited by lawyer Harry Roque.
He said Yap had also asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct an investigation focusing on the National Capital Region (NCR) office of the Quedancor to possibly unearth more persons who could be held liable for their involvement in the anomaly.
Fondevilla pointed out that the swine program was conceptualized and implemented in 2003, when Lorenzo was the DA chief.
He said the Yap-initiated investigation led to the relief of the then-president and chief executive officer of Quedancor--Nelson Buenaflor--and a deeper probe by the Office of the Ombudsman into the case. Buenaflor was subsequently replaced by now officer-in-charge Federico Espiritu.
Through a memorandum of agreement due for signing this month, Fondevilla said that the DA and Quedancor will tap the legal expertise of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel  (OGCC) to pursue the collection of payments and file cases against input suppliers, grower-borrowers and Quedancor officers.
“Secretary Yap is not involved in this controversy because he was not the head of the DA when the Quedancor’s swine program was planned and implemented,” Fondevilla said.
Fondevilla noted that upon learning of the COA report following his reappointment as DA secretary in October 2006, "it was Secretary Yap who asked the Board and the Management committee of Quedancor to conduct a probe into the matter after the Board got the copy of the COA findings, which later led the Quedancor management committee to endorse the case for further investigation and appropriate action to the Office of the Ombudsman."
The COA findings used by Yap to initiate the probe pertain to the same report cited by Roque in unduly implicating the DA chief in this COA-questioned swine program, he said.
“Hence, it is absurd for anyone to accuse Secretary Yap of any involvement in, this COA-reported Quedancor anomaly,” Fondevilla said.
The members of the Quedancor governing board, which include Yap, have conducted dialogues with implementers, input suppliers and grower-borrowers of the swine program to resolve the issues and address the problems uncovered by the COA, he said.
Fondevilla said that Quedancor had formed a Swine Program Task Force to validate the extent of the irregularities; explore available options to mitigate financial losses; study possible legal actions against input suppliers and grower-borrowers believed involved in defrauding the program; and initiate the collection of repayments.
As for Buenaflor, he said, the Quedancor board had forced him to go on leave starting May 22 last year to pave the way for a free and equitable investigation into the COA report.
“Effective the same date, Quedancor had also stopped accepting new applications for lending under the swine program to prevent further financial hemorrhage to the corporation,” Fondevilla said. “The Quedancor limited itself to renewals of current accounts under the swine program.”
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Re: Yap had initiated probe of C.O.A. - reported Swine Program fraud
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2008, 11:10:43 AM »
DA exec says swine program fund 'uncollected,' not missing

Billions of pesos intended for the Department of Agriculture's (DA) Swine Program are only "uncollected" and not missing, a government official said Friday.

DA Undersecretary Bernie Fondevilla said the actual amount intended for the program was P2.460 billion. He said that P1 billion of the total swine fund has been collected from the beneficiaries.

"When I sat as member of the board of QuedanCorp (government-owned Quedan and Rural Credit Guarantee Corp.), the amount of the balance was P1.460 billion," he told ABS-CBN News.

He added that collections have also been recently made from marginalized farmer-beneficiaries, which reduced the balance amount for collection to P1.3 billion.

Fondevilla said QuedanCorp is still trying to collect P500 million from the beneficiaries, while the P800 million remaining amount have been labeled as "in arrears," which either means a debtor of beneficiaries are already overdue in payment.

The DA executive’s information supported the earlier statement made by former Quedancorp president Nelson Buenaflor, who said that the P747 million fund for the program was not missing but merely "misrecorded."

"Nagkaroon lang ng misrecording. Instead na ang account niya ay Quedancor Swine Program, under the March circular, na-book nila on a program which was previously implemented," he said.

The agency, he said, also sent a correction to the Commission on Audit (COA) regarding the problem.

Lawyer disputes execs' accounts

Lawyer Harry Roque, an anti-corruption crusader, however, insisted that the DA's insistence that the missing billions worth of government funds are not a result of a simple "collection problem."

"The problem is there are really no true recipients of the debts. In fact, the COA (Commission on Audit) report said the DA has accounted only P176 million," Roque said.

He said the pigs were never delivered to the farmers. Some of the farmer-beneficiaries registered in DA and Quedancor lists were ghost recipients. "The truth is [according to the COA report] that farmers were given P200 to P300 to sign as beneficiaries," Roque said.

COA cited in its 2005 and 2006 audit reports that it doesn't believe the DA's explanation for the unaccounted amount.

"You would see in the report that QuedanCorp had explanations, but COA said it doesn't believe [the explanations]," he said.

The lawyer added that COA did not believe QuedanCorp's explanation and narration of the Swine Program from the time it was conceptualized up to the time the suppliers were chosen for the distribution of the hogs.

Roque had said that the Swine Program's total fund was P5 billion. Half of the fund was used for the "ghost" hog deliveries and the other half was deposited with the Land Bank of the Philippines.

"Half of the [P5 billion] was deposited with the Land Bank. The thinking was the interest of this placement will in turn pay for the cost of borrowing the P5 billion," he said.

Roque said QuedanCorp itself complained that "huge sums of money" withdrawn from the account was paid as "arrangers’ fee and attorneys fees," which he said was unlikely since the transaction should have been "government to government."

However, Buenaflor said he doubts that P1 billion worth of pigs were not delivered to hog raisers. He added that non-delivery incidents are rare.

Dubious hog suppliers

The COA report indicated that the supposed suppliers of the hogs – Briks Agri-Livestock, Silverstock Resources Corp, and Metro Livestock – did not go through bidding.

The COA report, according to Roque, indicated that Briks supplied P583-million worth of hogs, Silverstock (P480 million) and Metro Livestock (P383 million).

However, Roque said the three suppliers had lower paid-up capitals amounting from P62,500 to P760,000 only.

The three companies also have "interlocking shareholders and directors," which means the three were owned by the same people, the lawyer said.

He said the COA report said the three companies had no track record and were "curiously incorporated" in 2003, a year before the Swine Program was implemented.

The three were also not accredited hog suppliers by the Bureau of Animal Industry.

'Arroyo should be held accountable'

On Wednesday, Roque said President Arroyo should be "held accountable" in the swine anomaly because it happened when the Office of the President took jurisdiction of QuedanCorp in 2004 through Executive Order 322.

"Dahil inako ng Presidente ang supervision and control dito sa Quedancorp noong mga panahon na may anomalya ito, ay kinakailangang managot din ang Presidente," Roque said.

The Office of the President returned QuedanCorp to the DA after "reorganizing" its board. QuedanCorp, a government-owned agency that provides lending services for farmers.

However, this was disputed by Buenaflor, who said that the swine program was already in operation when it was transferred to the Office of the President.

"Incidental lang yung, short period lang... nung ma-transfer yan, nandiyan na ‘yong swine program. Matagal na ‘yong swine program na-implement," Buenaflor said.

Buenaflor said that during the last months of 2004 Quedancorp was transferred from the Department of Agriculture to the Office of the President.

Buenaflor said he was told that the President wanted to integrate government livelihood programs to make them more effective, but he admitted he wondered why the agency's jurisdiction was transferred.

Consolidation of livelihood programs

"Nagtaka rin... I really don't know during that time, but ang rationale niyan ay was to consolidate livelihood programs... together with Landbank, kinonsolidate yang Quedancorp for financing para ma-strengthen ‘yong intervention ng government," Buenaflor said.

Six months after the transfer, the DA again assumed jurisdiction over the lending agency, because the Agriculture Department had more knowledge of farmers' concerns.

"The livelihood programs the DA is very much involved with farmers and fishermen," Buenaflor said.

He also casted his doubts on the allegation that the fund was used for the presidential elections on May that year, because Quedancorp's jurisdiction was transferred after the election period.

Buenaflor also said he was not fired, but was told to file a leave while the case is being investigated. However, he opted to resign because of old age.

Buenaflor also said that he has no problem being questioned regarding the swine program, and that it's a "good thing" Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap is having the issue investigated.
With reports from Niña Corpuz, ABS-CBN News


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