LINGAYEN, Pangasinan — The Commission on Audit (COA) has to look into the closed dairy farm project in Laoac town as it was bankrolled by government funds.

The project, with more than 600 milking cows at the very start, was closed sometime early last year.

It was put up by a combination of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as well as the share of the fifth district of Pangasinan from the Tobacco Excise Tax (TET).

Manuel Tolentino, chairman of the Save Pangasinan Movement (SPM) sought for the probe. He led a rally at the abandoned dairy project site in Barangay Maraboc, Laoac last Feb. 3 to confirm and show to his fellow members that the project for which a huge sum of PDAF and TET was used was no longer operational.

“But no matter what they say, the use of tobacco excise tax for the dairy farm is still illegal at it is still technical malversation and those responsible for this cannot go away with it,” he said.

He said that other projects in the fifth district of Pangasinan which also flopped and went bankrupt before they become operational are the palay drying facility in Barangay Unzad, Villasis, and another such facility in Barangay Bersamin, Alcala.

Tolentino said that for the alleged misuse of tobacco excise tax, SPM already filed a case of plunder and a separate case of violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act against present and former officials of Alcala.

” If we can find proofs that former Congressman Mark Cojuangco is linked to the misuse of tobacco excise tax in Alcala because of his admission in radio and television interview that he allowed the use of PDAF and TET on these projects that flopped, we will include him (Cojuangco) in these plunder and anti-graft cases already filed with the Ombudsman.

He said it was during the term of Cojuangco as Congressman of the fifth district of Pangasinan when Php 1.2 billion in TET was withdrawn and which amount did not benefit the tobacco farmers.

Informed of the admission of Cojuangco that the cows previously raised in the dairy farm had died, Tolentino said this made the investigation of the project more urgent because it appeared that the cooperative, which managed the project was incapable of handling the dairy farm.

Tolentino claimed that the cooperative that handled the dairy project was not composed of farmers as its 15 members of the board of directors were all professionals and would not have the capability to manage a huge dairy farm. PNA/