Isinusulong ni Senador Panfilo Lacson ang malalimang imbestigasyon ng Senado sa isang sindikatong “tong-pats” sa loob ng Department of Agriculture, na makikinabang sa rekomendasyon ng ahensya na ibaba ang taripa at taasan ang minimum access volume (MAV) ng imported na baboy dahil sa African Swine Fever (ASF).
Ito ay makaraang makarating sa kaalaman ng mambabatas ang impormasyong limpak-limpak ang “tong-pats” na nakokolekta ng ilang mapagsamantalang nasa gobyerno, habang malalagay sa alanganin o tuluyan nang pagkamatay ang lokal na industriya ng babuyan sa bansa, bukod pa sa malaking halagang nawawala sa ekonomiya at manganganib ang kalusugan ng publiko.
“We should unmask who is/are behind this scheme no matter how powerful and influential he may be with this administration. I want to see even a whiff of enthusiasm from the President to order the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission and other concerned agencies to investigate, not to mention heed the call of the Senate to disapprove the DA’s recommendation to reduce the tariff and increase the volume of pork importation. Let’s see,” mariing pahayag ni Lacson.
Nakipag-ugnayan na rin ang mambabatas sa pamunuan ng Mataas na Kapulungan kaugnay sa kanyang hangarin.
“I have talked to Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III to have the Senate look into this, so we can get the documents we need. So far, we have received documents from the Bureau of Customs and DA. Still, we need more data to get to the bottom of the anomaly,” paliwanag ni Lacson sa panayam sa TeleRadyo.
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson pushed Tuesday for a Senate investigation into the activities of a syndicate within the Department of Agriculture that stands to gain billions of pesos in “tong-pats” from the DA’s recommendation to lower tariff rates on – and to increase the minimum access volume (MAV) of – imported pork products due to the severe impact of African Swine Fever (ASF) on the swine industry.
Lacson said the anomalies amount to a triple whammy that threatens to kill our local hog industry while raising health concerns and costing the government forgone revenues.
“We should unmask who is/are behind this scheme no matter how powerful and influential he may be with this administration. I want to see even a whiff of enthusiasm from the President to order the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission and other concerned agencies to investigate, not to mention heed the call of the Senate to disapprove the DA’s recommendation to reduce the tariff and increase the volume of pork importation. Let’s see,” Lacson said.
“I have talked to Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III to have the Senate look into this, so we can get the documents we need. So far, we have received documents from the Bureau of Customs and DA. Still, we need more data to get to the bottom of the anomaly,” he added in an interview on TeleRadyo.
Last Wednesday, February 24, while waiting in the Senate lounge for our 51st Senate session to start, I asked the Senate President if we can be co-authors in a yet-to-be drafted Senate resolution to honor and recognize Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto for receiving an award given by the US State Department as one of the world’s 12 anti-corruption champions. The Senate President’s reluctant response was: Sige, pero co-author lang ako. Ikaw ang principal author and sponsor kasi, alam mo na… with a chuckle. I knew exactly what he was trying to say, Mr. President. It is that little, big thing called “sense of propriety,” better understood by Filipinos as “delicadeza.” All of us inside this hall as well as those attending online know that Mayor Vico is the Senate President’s nephew, being his equally famous brother Vic’s offspring.
That being said, the young mayor has consistently refused to put his picture and name on billboards and similar materials on publicly funded projects in the City of Pasig. What easily comes to mind is our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal who once said, and I quote: “No good water comes from a muddy spring. No sweet fruit comes from a bitter seed.” Let me put it in a more simple language, distinguished colleagues: “Like uncle, like nephew.”
Say, if public funds were spent not for COVID-19 as required under the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism but for dialysis centers and infirmaries and which are clearly not authorized, it can still be declared as liquidated – but it does not mean funds were legally disbursed.
That is why, as we already know, some former and current PhilHealth officials presently face charges from the DOJ-led task force.
This is one good reason why the Senate must keep going in performing our oversight function as our collective responsibility to the People of the Philippines.
Modesty aside, most of the pieces of evidence used by the National Bureau of Investigation were culled from the materials that we submitted to the Department of Justice.
We can only hope that this case reaches its logical conclusion to make all those who, without a shred of conscience in their bones, took advantage of a deadly virus to fleece government of funds intended to respond to an unprecedented health crisis that we continue to grapple with.
That said, there is more reason that we should trust DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra and his people at the DOJ and NBI.
From Rudy Romero’s column in the Manila Standard: Another Hero of the Year 2020 is Senator Panfilo Lacson. After his work on the proposed General Appropriations Act for 2021, he truly deserves to be called Mr. Budget. Over the years, the former police general from Cavite has made it his mission to be conversant with the nefarious operations – overpricing, lump-summing, insertions and concealment – associated with the structuring of the national budget, especially its public-works portion.
Dubious items in the Department of Public Works and Highways’ budget for 2021 – including double and overlapping appropriations – could be a key starting point for Malacañang in reviewing the P4.5-trillion 2021 budget bill, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said.
“It is clear that questionable items such as double and overlapping appropriations should be vetoed, along with at least 793 line items for multi-purpose buildings with a uniform P1-million appropriation each,” he said in an interview on DZRH radio Thursday evening.
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson renewed his call to fellow lawmakers for transparency, “particularly our amendments in the 2021 budget bill.”
Lacson stressed transparency is crucial to dispel suspicions of “compromises and personal interests in our proposed amendments.”
“If we have nothing to hide, we have to make our amendments public, as I have done in my case, so those amendments can be scrutinized by the media as well as the public. It is the mandate of Congress to make amendments to the budget bill; we cannot just adopt the National Expenditure Program in toto,” he said in an interview on DZRH radio Friday evening.