Press Release
May 30, 2014

Koko seeks audit of DA's Organic Agricultural Fund

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III has filed a Senate resolution, asking the Commission on Audit (COA) to conduct a special audit of the controversial Organic Agricultural Fund of the Department of Agriculture (DA), specially for the year 2012.

Pimentel, who is a victim of a scam that used his name and office to perpetrate a fraudulent transaction, said there is need "to determine the extent of the shenanigans in the usage of the said fund and bring to justice the perpetrators of this multi-million fraud and theft of public funds."

He said the funds are administered and allocated by the DA supposedly for the furtherance of organic endeavours and other undertakings for the benefit of marginal farming families.

But Pimentel said there is "strong evidence of abuse, misuse, and possible graft and corruption" in the usage of the funds as shown in a memorandum of agreement between the DA and Surigao province, allocating P10 million for organic farming related activities based on falsified, false and forged documents.

He had denied participating in or even directly or indirectly authorizing any such act, proceeding, or transaction.

The Mindanao senator had already filed criminal and administrative cases against DA Undersecretary for administration and finance Antonio A. Fleta and three more senior officials for their alleged complicity in the fraudulent scheme before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Also named by Pimentel in the complaints were Delia A. Ladera, supervising administrative officer; Charie Sarah D. Saquing, department chief accountant; and Thelma C. Tolentino, officer-in-charge of the budget division.

He accused them of falsification of a document and violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and sought their preventive suspension pending investigation.

Pimentel said the special audit would give the public as well as the government's prosecution arm much needed information on the extent of the fraud involving the said fund, and as a first step in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the scam involving millions of public funds.

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