MANILA — The Department of Agriculture (DA) welcomes the call by the Senate for an investigation on the purchase of fertilizer.
“(DA) Secretary (William) Dar welcomes the Senate investigation so the public, as well as the legislators, will be given the right information on the issue of the purchase of fertilizer,” said DA Assistant Secretary Noel Reyes during the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF)-Task Group on Food Security virtual presser on Tuesday afternoon.
Dar earlier said the DA “strictly followed the procurement modality of negotiated procurement (emergency purchase), pursuant to Sec. 53.2 of RA 9184 and Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB)”.
The DA initially procured a total of 1,811,090 bags of urea fertilizer at a price lower than the national average retail prices of PHP1,035.60 for April 27 to May 1; PHP1,037.53 for May 4 to 8; and PHP1,040.68 for May 11 to 15. The volume procured comprises four of the 16 lots for wet season 2020 cropping.
Dar said such prices were “a lot cheaper compared to previous purchases at the regions, ranging from PHP1,300 to PHP1,500 per 50-kilo bag of urea fertilizer.”
“I can personally vouch for the truthfulness and trustworthiness of the procurement process that the DA-BAC (Bids and Awards Committee) has exercised for these fertilizers,” he said.
“We have been very transparent on the procurement of fertilizer as we know this might be used to stir false information against the government. The DA will not wrongfully hold any information that should be known to the public,” he added.
The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), however, said the DA’s retail price is way above the average retail price of PHP850.
“Fertilizer bought by farmers themselves fetch for only PHP830 to PHP850 per bag. This shows that the purchase of these urea fertilizer by the DA Central Office was utterly disadvantageous to the government and to our farmers,” SINAG Chairman Rosendo So said in a statement.
Senator Cynthia Villar said she would call for a Senate inquiry on the alleged overpriced fertilizer contract.
Villar vowed to “look at all sides” to the issue.
“We have to ensure that the funds made available by the government to help our countrymen cope with the ongoing pandemic are being used for their intended purpose and beneficiaries, particularly the farmers,” she said.
Meanwhile, Dar urged the public to help the government in ensuring that every peso is going to where it should be spent.
“We vowed from the beginning of a no-corruption policy at the Department of Agriculture,” he said. Lilybeth Ison /PNA – northboundasia.com