Oppose the immoral fertilizer scam under the pandemic – Anakpawis to farmers
Manila, Philippines – As the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and other peasant groups reveal the procurement of overpriced fertilizers, as supposedly support to farmers to alleviate the impact of the pandemic, the Anakpawis Party-list urged farmers across Luzon to be vigilant and oppose the said anomaly, and demand for a pro-peasant support program.
“We urge farmers to join the opposition against this scam. This is immoral, especially that we are facing the impact of the pandemic. Public funds should be utilized truthfully and wisely, to strengthen food security in the country and the livelihood of millions of farmers,” Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao said in a press statement.
KMP earlier slammed the overpricing with the Department of Agriculture’s procurement last April to May of more than 1.8 million bags at around P1,000 each. The DA announced that this was a negotiated procurement under the Rice Resiliency Project, covered by the Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. The agency also awarded the bidding to two suppliers at prices ranging from P900 to P995 per bag, for Calabarzon, Bicol, Central Luzon and Central Visayas. The DA allotted P1.8 billion for more than 1.8 million bags of urea fertilizer or at an average of P1,000 per bag. KMP asserted that these bags could be purchased at P850 each and overpricing could be at least P271 million.
“The purchase defies the ‘common sense’ and ‘best practices’ in bulk trading. We are seeing that the prices were higher than the prevailing, when the DA could even negotiate for lower based on the volume. This is more absurd given that the government is empowered with price control as the state of calamity is still in effect,” the former lawmaker stressed.
He also noted that the DA has virtually exposed the vulnerability of the emergency powers incorporated with the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, with overpricing in procurements, putting public interest into an advantage.
“Is the DA claiming that this procurement of higher than the prevailing prices is common in the execution of the Bayanihan law? Apparently, the emergency power was not used to uphold public interest, but only to evade the basic tenets of the procurement law. In case, this issue could even serve as fuse to explosive exposés on negotiated procurements carried out under the Bayanihan law,” he questioned.
Anakpawis called for an impartial probe on the “2020 fertilizer scam,” and urged the people to be vigilant, as the criticism against the Bayanihan law, as being appropriated with public funds sans clear list of items to be procured is at present manifesting.
“This could be the legacy of the Duterte regime’s pandemic response, the irregular and unwise utilization of public funds, depriving the legitimate beneficiaries of due services, while we are not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, brought about by the denial of the very fundamental, which is medical response, particularly free mass testing to the people,” he ended. ###