Officials urged: Charge guv, veterinarian with plunder-A A +A
Saturday, February 9, 2013
PULUPUNDAN Mayor Magdaleno Peña urged the Provincial Board (PB) on Friday to file plunder charges against Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon and provincial veterinarian Dr. Renante Decena for alleged P50 million to P60 million overpriced purchase of sheep from Australia last year.
He said members of the PB themselves should initiate the filing of the charges to prove that their previous action of approving the purchase was done in good faith.
"If the council will serve as a complainant, then that will prove their good faith," Peña said in a press conference on Friday.
He said that he, being a Negrense, cannot just tolerate a malpractice in a government transaction.
"I am the only mayor in the province and even in Western Visayas who does not receive my salary and does not even get a liter of gasoline from the government. I am a believer that a true public servant serves the people and does not take advantage of his or her power. The alleged overprice should not just be allowed or tolerated. Whoever benefited from the alleged overpriced purchase should be made answerable to the people because that is people's money and I should protect its appropriate utilization," Peña said.
He compared the prices of sheep from the Internet and found out that each sheep costs only between P3,000 to P4,000.
The sheep bought by the Provincial Government last year amounted to P18,000 per female sheep and P25,000 per male sheep.
The sheep weighs between 35 to 50 kilos. If this is sold, the cost per kilo of the meat of the sheep amounts to P1,000 per kilo.
Peña said the P200-million loan availed by the Provincial Government is not just their own loan, as every Negrense is paying for it. Thus, this must be brought to the court or the Ombudsman because this is the people's cause, he added.
He said if council will not file the plunder, criminal or administrative charge, he will be constrained to file it and include them in the case.
Peña also said that Governor Marañon, being his friend, should consider retiring from government service due to his physical handicap.
But Decena said Friday that the “overprice” claim was irresponsible and highly speculative and, to a great extent, twisted.
He said the issue came out at a time that Negros Occidental is hosting the 16th National Dairy Congress and Expo, and is meant to dampen the high spirits of the local dairy and livestock sector.
Decena said the contention that they have canvassed lower prices for the Damara/Dooper ewes and rams had to be verified, as prices of livestock, just like any other commodity, are largely dependent on the prevailing trend in the market.
The information, based on the accuser's research as he claimed, was unverified, he added.
The Provincial Government decided to buy the livestock in question based on the approved Livestock Development Agenda. The proposal was duly concurred by the PB and the Land Bank of the Philippines which granted the loan for such purpose.
Decena said the payment of P80.30 million to cover the P62.20 million cost of the livestock and the P18.09 million for the package freight/port were facilitated by the Land Bank of the Philippines based on the approved Pro Forma invoice No. 0001-2011 of the International Livestock Export Pty Ltd based in Perth, Western Australia.
The same Pro-Forma Invoice was duly concurred by Marañon and was certified correct by the PB, as contained in its Resolution 1003 dated November 9, 2011. Two other PB resolutions - Nos. 003 and 007 - also supported the Livestock Industry Program.
Decena said this means that the transaction was between Land Bank and the International Livestock Export Pty Ltd, and no single cent passed through him, Governor Marañon, and the Provincial Government.
"All told, we spent only P62.20 million for the 5,544 ewes and 296 rams at P10,559.32 and P12,395.70 each, respectively, at the time and place of purchase. In General Santos, the cost of the Damara/Dorper per head is pegged at P35,000," he said.
"Since we embarked on this endeavor to infuse interest in the local sheep industry, the Provincial Government dispersed the livestock at a cost to include overhead for it to earn and pay the Land Bank loan," he added.
He said the veracity of the figure cited by the accuser in his letter is apparently a big question mark.
The provincial veterinarian cited ex-farm prices and did not, on purpose, include incidental costs such as package freight/port, handling, custom charge, plane fares, truck rental, duty tax, inspection fees, drugs and medicines as contained in the Pro Forma invoice, thus, “confusing the public because he made it appear his price quotations were lower.”
He said facts would show that while the combined livestock cost and incidentals reached P80.30 million, the Province, as of latest report from the Livestock Committee, earned from its investment on the sector.
After selling the livestock, he said sales receipts totaled over P98 million, Decena said, adding that after the approval of the PB and Land Bank, the Bids and Awards Committee takes over the processing and documentation to complete the livestock acquisition.
"With my expertise on livestock industry matters, the governor had entrusted the selection of animals to be purchased by the Province as he travelled with the governor to Australia, together with another expert, Dr. Saturnino Dayanan of the Provincial Veterinary Office. The purchase has gone through a technical evaluation, thus the claim of overprice remains a claim,” he stressed.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on February 09, 2013.