MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/15 July) — Bukidnon Gov. Alex Calingasan said President Benigno Aquino must look into the organic fertilizer subsidy the National Irrigation administration distributed in Northern Mindanao as an important step in his campaign to wipe out corruption in the country.
Calingasan told MindaNews that if it is true the fertilizers distributed were useless, then it is a waste of people’s money and should be investigated.
The Provincial Government of Bukidnon has asked the Department of Agriculture to probe the government subsidy and the distribution of organic fertilizers to farmers in Northern Mindanao, including close to 600 farmers in Bukidnon.
In a resolution passed last month, the Bukidnon provincial board asked DA to “conduct an in-depth investigation” on the matter.
The Department of Agriculture has sent the provincial board a copy of its memorandum order to the DA Legal Division, ordering its legal counsel, Vero Libroja to do “appropriate action,” according to Jenny Lumain of the Office of the Agriculture Secretary, a copy of which was shown to MindaNews by now Valencia City councilor Glenn Peduche.
Peduche first raised the issue at the provincial board, following complaints of Valencia City farmers that the fertilizers were allegedly useless. He was then a board member representing Valencia City.
Peduche told MindaNews they are expecting the results this week of the substance analysis conducted by the Fertilizers and Pesticides Authority in Manila.
Danilo Negre, FPA Bukidnon provincial officer told MindaNews Tuesday they have conducted an inventory of some stocks of the fertilizers at the NIA office in Valencia City.
He said they found intact the 2,700 bags of “grow organic” fertilizers and 3,741 bottles of Green Organic liquid fertilizers believed to be the third of the three tranches of the P30 million fertilizer subsidy project.
Last month, the FPA issued a SUMS (stop use, stop move, stop sale) order to block NIA from distributing the latest stocks following the provincial board’s inquiry into the project. Peduche alleged a scam but NIA regional director Julius Macquiling said nothing was irregular and they were open for investigation.
The NIA 10 subsidy package included a fertilizer and pesticide distribution to farmers in Region 10, including those in Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, and Misamis Oriental. But the program zeroed in on members of irrigators’ associations, which explains NIA’s involvement.
A total of 1,340 farmers from the four provinces of Region 10 received a total of 18,317 bags of fertilizers and 6,104 bottles of pesticides.
The program is part of the national government’s FIELDS program, which integrates activities of related agriculture agencies to make the country “rice-sufficient,” said Julius Maquiling, NIA 10 regional director.
FIELDS stands for the six areas of support the national government pledged to farmers—Fertilizer, Irrigation and Infrastructure, Education and training of farmers and fisherfolk, Loans, Dryers and other post harvest and facilities, and Seeds of the high-yielding, hybrid varieties.
The pledge costs P43.7 billion nationwide but Maquiling said they were able to access P30 million from the project.
Valencia City Agriculture officer Gerson Salvan said they were not consulted about the project. There was also no coordination with them. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)