Group worried over DA?s request for additional P4B budget

Zaynab Ampatuan, deputy national secretary general of the Suara Party-list, said her group is suspicious about the real motive behind Yap's request for an additional P4-billion budget on top of its existing allotment with the coming of the elections in May.

The reason for this suspicion was anchored on the controversy that struck the DA that involved the alleged use of millions’ worth of government money as campaign fund for the candidacy of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo before the 2004 elections.

At least P728-million worth of fertilizers were allegedly funneled by the DA, masterminded by Undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante, as money to ensure President Arroyo's victory.

"This department has a dark history of massive graft and corruption and this experience is enough reason for all of us to be suspicious about the real motive behind the request for more funds. We can only expect for a repeat of the controversial fertilizer scam or for another cheating scheme much worst that will be devised by the government through this fund," Ampatuan said.

"If this will happen, suffering the brunt will be the poor farming communities of Mindanao — the tri-people (Moro, Lumad, and Christians) who have always been the recipient of sugar-coated promises of politicians but often left neglected in the end. The government has to stop using the plight of the poor farmers as front of their own agenda," Ampatuan added.

Yap announced his department's request for more funds in a visit in Davao City recently, which according to him will be used for the rehabilitation of irrigation facilities of about 27,000 hectares of farmlands. Yap also said that a part of the money will also be used to fund the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

But Ampatuan believes otherwise, which was seconded by the militant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).

"The government seems to be hatching a scam bigger than that of the P728-million fertilizer scam for the coming elections. The problem of the farmers regarding farm inputs has been there since time immemorial and they should have acted on it long time ago and not now when they obviously need money for the elections," said Danilo Ramos, secretary general of KMP.