House minority urges Alcala to take leave-A A +A
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
THE House minority bloc called for Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to take a leave of absence as the Office of the Ombudsman begins the investigation for his graft and falsification charges.
Alcala is being investigated for alleged fraudulent disbursement of some P3.5 million in pork barrel funds intended for farmers during his term as congressman of the second district of Quezon from 2007 to 2010.
Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, who represents Quezon in the House of Representatives, said, "He (Alcala) should voluntarily take a leave of absence."
Alcala's accuser, former Lucena mayor Ramon Talaga Jr., also sought for Cabinet official's preventive suspension from office while the graft and falsification case are being investigated.
Talaga said Alcala allocated P3.5 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund to support a project of an organization called Sir Pelagio Alcantara Development (Spade) Foundation but the money did not reach the hands of its intended beneficiaries.
"It appears now that the money never reached most of the farmers and that their signatures were faked," Suarez said.
Alcala earlier said that the case against him is politically motivated because his nephew, incumbent mayor Roderick Alcala, is running against Talaga in the mayoral race in May.
Suarez, meanwhile, said that had President Benigno Aquino III known about the allegations confronting Alcala, he would not have appointed him to the post.
"All I can say is that, with a past that includes defrauding of farmers, we should not be surprised that rampant smuggling of agricultural commodities and importation of palm oil by government agencies tasked to protect coconut farmers are occurring under his watch," he said.
Suarez added that the smuggling incidence in the present administration makes the smuggling occurrence during the former government "kindergarten." (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)