Senator seeks probe on alleged corruption in PCA

MANILA — Sen. Francis Pangilinan on Wednesday sought for a probe on the corruption allegations against Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) administrator Avelino Andal.

Pangilinan, former Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (PAFSAM), filed Senate Resolution 338 directing the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to conduct an inquiry on the alleged corruption at the agency.

On March 15, 2017, Andal was suspended for his alleged extortion of PHP P1.50 per board foot of trees being cut in Basilan, Mindoro, Marinduque, and Quezon as well as his alleged order to collect fees on transport permits.

Reports said the fees collected reached more or less PHP90 million in Basilan alone.

Andal blamed the “yellows” or members of the Liberal Party (LP) to be behind the so-called “evil scheme to undermine the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.”

He also accused Cabinet Undersecretary Halmen Valdez for orchestrating such a “scheme” in viewing of Valdez’s purported connection with PAFSAM, which was under Pangilinan during the previous administration.

Pangilinan noted in the resolution that he resigned as Secretary of PAFSAM on September 30, 2015, months before Valdez joined PAFSAM.

Andal also said that the accusations against him were made in connection with the anticipated enactment of Senate Bill 1233 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act.

The bill, pending on second reading in the Senate, proposes to establish the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund estimated at about PHP100 billion in cash and assets for the benefit of the coconut farmers and the development of the coconut industry

Pangilinan said that “the ongoing rift and grave accusations between PCA and the Office of the Cabinet Secretary cast serious doubt on the integrity, capacity, and reliability of PCA to administer the proposed trust fund which must be investigated.” Azer Parrocha/