BY GLENDA SOLOGASTOA
ILOILO – The Rice Development Program coordinator of the provincial government denied alleged irregularities in the project’s execution.
There were no missing bags of rice or fertilizers, insisted Carmelo Oren, also the supervising agriculturist at the Provincial Agriculture Office.
The reported unaccounted 30 sacks of fertilizers – out of the 150 total bags procured in 2011 for P219,300 – were used in the Rice Demonstration Farm Art Center in Brgy. Nanga, Pototan town, Oren claimed.
The capitol-run farm is a “model” in integrated farming.
As to the alleged unaccounted fertilizers and herbicides, Oren said these (worth a total of P322,102.50) were stored at the Western Visayas Integrated Agricultural Research Center (WESVIARC) in Brgy. Hamungaya, Jaro, Iloilo City.
The fact-finding committee created by Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. to investigate the alleged anomaly may simply have missed the stocks during its investigation at WESVIARC, said Oren.
Regarding another set of fertilizers – 100 bags of Urea, 50 bags of T14 amounting to P219,300 – procured in 2011, Oren said the stocks were also at WESVIARC.
The fact-finding committee had said only 120 bags of these were distributed.
As to the bags of high-quality palay seeds brought in 2012 for P1,257,550, Oren said these were also distributed.
The fact-finding committee claimed that of the 933 bags of seeds procured, only 873 were distributed, and 60 bags were unaccounted.
Oren said 873 were distributed (with master list) to identified farmer-beneficiaries.
He, however, admitted that the rest did not have master lists of beneficiaries because the recipients were non-farmer beneficiaries. He said they were capitol employees who were also farmers, and the regional agriculture office that at times would ask for rice seeds if it ran out of stocks).
Oren admitted that at times, Requisition Issue Slips (RIS) were not issued during releases. But he had a ready explanation for this. Sometimes, he said, the province would provide the regional agriculture office with stocks. Some rice seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides were also released as incentives to farmers.
Oren admitted that the approval of RIS and others documents pertaining to the releases should have the approval of Provincial Agriculturist Ildefonso Toledo.
However, he said, if Toledo was not around, he would still proceed or sought out the one in the planning unit of the Provincial Agriculture Office for the approval.
The other day, Toledo said he believed the rice seeds and fertilizers that the provincial government procured under its Rice Development Program reached their intended farmer-beneficiaries.
The discrepancies discovered by the fact-finding committee may likely be due to documentation errors, he asserted.
Toledo, however, admitted he may have become too trusting of Oren.
He confirmed not bothering to double check documents related to the Rice Development Program, and specifically the distribution of rice seeds and fertilizers to farmers.
Oren may have lapses in the preparation of the master lists of beneficiaries, among others, said Toledo./PN