We are posting here the official statement of the Center for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (CARRD) on the Philippines’ Department of Agrarian Reform’s corruption and plunder of the Malampaya (natural gas reserves) fund, totaling P900 million. CARRD is part of the Land Watch Asia Campaign.
26 September 2013
We condemn the Department of Agrarian Reform under the administration of former Secretary Nasser Pangandaman for its misuse of P900 million from the Malampaya funds.
Every year farmers have to contend with typhoons, floods, and droughts that destroy their crops and their homes. Everyyear is a struggle against nature, against falling crop prices, and against rising interests on farm loans.
In 2009, Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng hit the Philippines less than a week apart from each other causing floods and displacing many families from their homes. The typhoons severely affected farming families in the rural areas.
The typhoons devastated farms leaving ruined crops and farm infrastructures in their wake.
It is the government’s duty to give aid and provide for the welfare of the poor and marginalized especially in times of disaster.
In 2009, the Department of Budget and Management released P900 million from the Malampaya fund to DAR to provide support services to agrarian reform communities affected by typhoons. But instead of delivering much needed services to the people, corrupt and greedy officials channeled these funds to fake NGOs owned by Janet Lim-Napoles who pocketed the money.
We condemn DAR’s abandonment of its responsibility as service provider to agrarian reform communities.
As a legitimate NGO, the Center for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (CARRD) has worked in partnership with farmers in rural communities for the past 25 years and we bear personal witness to the daily struggles they face especially during the lean months, the pre-harvest season, when food and temporary off-farm jobs are hard to find.These months are regularly punctuated by strong typhoons which destroy farmers’ crops and homes, reducing farmers’ incomes and burying them in debt.
In the aftermath of the disaster, P900 million should have been used for cash transfers to farmers to buy farm inputs or to provide credit assistance for farm operating costs and help them recover from their losses.
We hold President Noynoy Aquino to his promise of “Tuwid na Daan” and his crusade to purge corruption from the government. We challenge President Aquino to pursue without prejudice the prosecution of Napoles, her cohorts, and ALL government officials involved no matter their connection to him.
We demand the seizure of assets of all government officials and private individuals involved in the Malampaya scam. We demand the return of all stolen money and to distribute it to the rightful beneficiaries – agrarian reform communities.
We challenge DAR Secretary Gil delos Reyes to institute reforms to prevent a repeat of this scandal. DAR must never again become a channel of corruption and plunder.
We call on the government to install mechanisms that will ensure adherence to a rigorous project bidding process, strict monitoring of released funds, and proper accreditation of legitimate NGOs as project implementers.
We demand for complete transparency in all government processes. We demand true service to the people from our government.
Last 11 February, Land Watch Asia – Philippines members: the Center for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (CARRD), the Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA), and ANGOC participated in a dialogue on budget monitoring between CSOs and key officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), including Secretary Virgillio delos Reyes. DAR initiated the consultation for the preparation of the agency’s 2014 budget proposal, which is a move toward transparency and collaboration.
At the forum, PhilDHRRA’s National Coordinator Divina Lopez asked DAR to specify the entry points for civil society with regard to the agency’s budget monitoring. CARRD’s Executive Director, Edwin Nerva shared findings from their report on agrarian justice delivery, Rationalizing public expenditures in agrarian justice delivery. For example, a major finding was that due to the automatic appropriations of fund savings as year-end financial incentives, provincial staff are more likely to limit their expenses, to the extent that farmers are forced to shoulder expenses in dispute resolution. Mr. Nerva asked how DAR can prevent this issue. Moreover, he asked how the DAR-CSO partnership on budget monitoring can be strengthened. DAR executives responded that issues will be addressed in further consultations with CSOs.
For more information, please read the original article, as well as other CARRD updates here:
Download CARRD’s publication Rationalizing public expenditures in agrarian justice delivery.