DA-12 to conduct audit on programs with ‘issues and concerns’

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 19 Feb) – The Department of Agriculture (DA) central office has launched an audit on various programs and projects previously implemented in Region 12 that had been flagged with some “issues and concerns.”

A Solar Powered Irrigation System (SPIS) in Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat. Photo courtesy of Keith Bacongco

Arlan Mangelen, the newly-designated DA-Region 12 executive director, said the ongoing internal audit covers a range of projects implemented by the agency, among them the Solar-Powered Irrigation System (SPIS) project.

He did not disclose the specific details of the review but said his office is currently validating and investigating some recent incidents.

Mangelen cited an incident that “happened last week involving employees of our office.”

He was referring to the disappearance of some P450,000 in cash reportedly intended for an SPIS project from a bunk house of DA-12. The incident was reported by the agency’s engineers to the Koronadal City police station.

“We’re focusing on internal procedures first. We will have administrative exhaustion within our office before resorting to outside [remedies],” Mangelen said in an interview with reporters.

A DA-12 source said the audit team already started meeting with some stakeholders and project partners of the agency last Monday.

Mangelen, who formally assumed the DA-12 post on Tuesday, acknowledged that the “issues and concerns” with the previous projects had triggered various problems.

But he cited that these are still “correctable and manageable” and “we just need to make things right.”

In his speech during the turnover ceremony, Mangelen appealed to DA-12 employees and local stakeholders to support the needed reforms at the agency so it can better serve the farmers and fisherfolk.

He said these were aimed to help realize President Rodrigo Duterte’s resolve to make farmers and fisherfolk in the country “prosperous.”

“We will straighten those that needs to be straightened to usher our farmers and fisherfolk to better lives,” he said.

Mangelen said the agency will continue to focus on the “8 paradigms” introduced by Agriculture Secretary William Dar to help “level up” the agriculture sector.

“This is basically [concentrated] on the provision of more support projects for farmers and fisherfolk, and leveling up mechanization to achieve industrialized farming in the country,” he said.

Mangelen was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte two weeks ago as the new DA-12 executive director, replacing director Milagros Casis.

He had served as the chief of staff of former Deputy House Speaker and Maguindanao first district Rep. Bai Sandra Sema, political officer and consultant for Region 12 of Senator Francis Tolentino, regional director of Land Transportation Office-12, election officer of Cotabato City and legal officer of the Department of Agrarian Reform-12. (MindaNews)