MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/18 July) – The wife of National Irrigation Administration chief Carlos Salazar owns 3K and C Enterprises, supplier of fertilizers for NIA’s P30-million organic fertilizer subsidy program in Northern Mindanao, the minutes of the 17th regular session of the 10th Sangguniang Panlalawigan on June 2, 2010 showed.
Regina Salazar, mayor of Lila town in Bohol, was identified during the session by NIA-10 regional director Julius Maquiling.
“Who’s her husband,” then Provincial Board Member Glenn Peduche asked Maquiling.
“The husband is also an agriculture engineer, one of our administrators,” Maquiling said in response.
Peduche, who is now a councilor of Valencia City, also asked Maquiling if the project went through a bidding process.
Maquiling was quoted verbatim in the minutes as saying the Department of Agriculture downloaded funds to the NIA and it was the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) of NIA 10- regional office that conducted the bidding.
“I am authorized to conduct bidding for projects worth P25 million. So there’s BAC,” he told the members of the provincial board in the session.
DA-10 regional director Leolyn Ramos was also invited but was not around.
“At the very least, we are looking at questions of propriety on the case of NIA administrator Salazar in this case,” Peduche told MindaNews Sunday.
In the same session, Peduche questioned the firm’s registration papers and license to produce organic fertilizer following the reported banning by the Provincial Government of North Cotabato.
Salazar’s firm bade for a P10-million organic fertilizer project in North Cotabato with an expired Fertilizers and Pesticides Authority permit, according to the North Cotabato E-legislative Portal (www.spnorthcotabato.net), as of November 2008.
The firm’s representative at that time said they had a certificate of registration valid until 2010. But the North Cotabato provincial board pointed out that it was not a license to manufacture and sell organic fertilizers.
Maquiling said the FPA permit of 3K and C is still valid.
“But I really prepared for it, honorable body, that it’s indicated in this report from the Fertilizers and Pesticides Authority that this supplier, their expiry date is 10/30/2010, the supplier of MLB (the Valencia City distributor of 3K and C),” he said.
After the June 2 session, Peduche facilitated the submission of samples of the organic fertilizers being stocked at the NIA office in Valencia City to the FPA owing to complaints these were no longer effective.
Peduche, a rice farmer and merchant from rice-producing Valencia City, told MindaNews the FPA regional office in Cagayan de Oro took the samples in early June following his privilege speech at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
The provincial board is awaiting the results of the tests from the FPA office in Manila.
Maquiling said he was open to the taking of samples to test the quality of the organic fertilizers as “I am a transparent man in transactions.”
This statement was in response to Peduche’s query about the quality of the organic fertilizers, samples of which had been checked then by an expert at the Central Mindanao University.
Farmers interviewed by MindaNews in Valencia City, where the Pulangi River Irrigation System is based, said the fertilizers were already useless when they took it from NIA’s warehouse.
“It was dry and useless,” Nixon Apsay told MindaNews in an interview at his house in Barangay Sinayawan.
Apsay is the president of the Sinayawan G-6 Lateral Irrigators Association, one of the 42 members of the Pulangi River Irrigation System, the biggest of the four irrigation systems in Bukidnon targeted for the project
He is one of the 566 farmer beneficiaries in Bukidnon.
Region-wide, 1,340 farmers were reported to have received a total of 18,317 bags of fertilizers and 6,104 bottles of pesticides in the project’s first three tranches.
Maquiling told the provincial board the second tranche was released.
But FPA Bukidnon provincial officer Danilo Negre told MindaNews recently they have issued a “stop use, stop move, and stop sale” (SUMS) order for the last tranche. He reported that 2,700 bags of “grow organic” fertilizers and 3,741 bottles of Green Organic liquid fertilizers are intact.
Maquiling said he would honor the queries of the provincial board “because that’s the process of governance.”
The NIA-10 subsidy package involves fertilizer and pesticide distribution to farmers in Region 10, which comprises the province of Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, and Misamis Oriental.
But the program zeroed in on members of irrigators’ associations, which explains NIA’s involvement.
MindaNews emailed questions to Maquiling this week but there have been no answers so far. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)