AN P11.88 million program of the Philippine Agricultural Development and Commercial Corporation (PADCC) aimed at drumming up agricultural products of Filipino farmers here and abroad only has one cart to show after spending P10.72 million of the allotted funding.
In a 68-page special audit report released last September 19 and submitted to the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, the Commission on Audit recommended that the DA conduct an investigation to determine agency officials who may be held liable for irregularities, including splitting of contracts, rigged bidding involving seemingly related suppliers, and release of payment despite lack of proof of delivery.
The audit of PADCC-Agri Kart Project was part of the COA’s review of the P38.84 billion releases from the Malampaya Funds during the Arroyo administration.
Funding was released in December 2008 for the management and operation of Agri-Negosyo projects in strategic locations, including major airport terminals, tourist destination areas, business centers as well as sites abroad frequented by migrant Filipino workers.
But based on the review of expenditures by the PADCC, auditors found that the bulk of the money was paid as compensation of agency personne, including P3.37 million charged as “salaries and wages,” P1.1 million as “travel expense,” and P1.19 million as Pinoy Agri-Kart Project management fees.
Another P948,105.68 was found to have been used to defray the regular operating expenses of the PADCC such as employees’ contributions to PhilHealth, Social Security System, and Home Development Mutual Fund, bonuses and other benefits, calamity assistance to PADCC staff, and even to purchase a token for then President Arroyo when she graced the 112th anniversary of the DA on June 18, 2010.
While the plan called for the procurement of 14 agri-karts that would serve as exhibit booths for Philippine-made agricultural products, only 10 were actually purchased worth P56,931 to P60,000 per cart.
The transaction raised red flags during audit after a review of the ownership of the companies that submitted price quotations showed they have overlapping names and addresses.
Based on documents obtained from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), M.D. Juan Enterprises Inc. and Centro Manufacturing Corp. both shared the same address at No. 2 Susano Road, Barrio Deparo, Novaliches, Caloocan City.
The two also have at least one corporate officer in common with the third supplier, Maxistar Enteprises Inc.
Centro Manufacturing Corp’s president and Maxistar’s vice president for operations also had similar names, auditors noted.
“The winning supplier and the establishments that purportedly submitted price quotations…have common officers. This only shows that these establishments are owned and managed by the same people,” the COA said.
In the end, the audit team could only find one kart that was actually put up and was still operational when the audit was conducted. It was found on display at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.
Two agri-karts were found dismantled at the PADCC office while another one was discovered rotting at the back of the DA main building.
Six were supposedly on display at the Philippine embassies in Switzerland, China, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and Malaysia and one in Loboc, Bohol but auditors found no proof to support this claim.