Press Release
October 6, 2006

Drilon sees 'Tulay ng Pangulo' project as scheme to save DAR

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Franklin M. Drilon branded the "Tulay ng Pangulo para sa Magsasaka" program as a scheme to extend the life of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

"There's no other justification for the involvement for the first time of DAR in this P11.74 billion infrastructure program but to extend its existence, which by law, will cease to exist in 2008," Drilon said.

Drilon, upon examination of the P15.6 billion proposed budget of the department for next year, found that P11.74 billion was allocated for a new program under the DAR called "Tulay ng Pangulo para sa Magsasaka," which will run from 2006 to 2011 and funded by a foreign loan.

"This is the first time that DAR is involved in this bridge program. This was implemented previously by other agencies," Drilon said.

In justifying DAR's involvement in the Tulay ng Pangulo program, DAR Sec. Nasser Pangandaman said the Department of Public Works and Highways will still be the implementing agency and that their role is limited to identification of agrarian reform communities where these bridges will be erected.

Under RA 8532, agrarian reform funding will end in 2008. Drilon also stated that DAR is lobbying for a law that will extend their mandate.

During the finance committee hearing on the budget of DAR, Pangandaman reported that as of June 30 of this year, 82.6 percent of the 6.6 million hectare of land identified for distribution has already been distributed.

"In accordance with their projection, they will finish over 90 percent of land distribution by 2008. If provided funding, they committed to finish it by 2008. That means, by 2008, they have completed their objective and there will be no other reason for their existence" Drilon said.

"This means the money that used to fund this bureaucracy may be used for other expenses of government," Drilon said.

In the same budget hearing, Drilon was able to get the commitment of DAR officials that no money will be downloaded from DAR to other government agencies, to be used for anomalous programs similar to the Fertilizer Fund Scam and the Hybrid Rice Program Scam.

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