The House of Representatives is set to investigate the Department of Agriculture (DA) officials in connection with the controversial P1.8 billion fertilizer scam.
This was after Makabayan bloc solons filed House Resolution (HR) 992, so Committees on Agriculture and Food and Good Government and Public Accountability could conduct a thorough investigation on the procurement of the alleged overpriced fertilizers.
The resolution is based on a report which questions the supply contract made by the DA to buy fertilizers for the Rice Resiliency Program aimed at increasing rice production from 87% -93% before the end of 2020.
“The issue on the alleged overpriced fertilizer further raised suspicion because news reports stated that the winning bidder La Filipina, does not also have available stocks of urea fertilizers nor has it shown any bill of lading to prove that it had an incoming supply of urea fertilizers and yet it still bagged the contract,” the resolution said.
According to lawmakers, it was April 28 when the DA invited bidding on the supply and delivery of 5.69M bags of urea fertilizers worth P5.69 billion.
Congress to probe P1.8 billion fertilizer scam
The DA has been bidding for 1.81 bags of urea fertilizers worth P1.8 billion or about P1,000 per bag of such crop fertilizers.
It turns out that the total contract with the P1.8 billion fertilizers was “overpriced” by an estimated P271.66-M based on farmers’ claims in Nueva Ecija and Tarlac, claiming that fertilizers were worth only P850 per bag.
It is also known that the price of urea fertilizer costs only P810 in Pangasinan, P830 in Tarlac, and P840 in Nueva Ecija. The prices could still be discounted if the fertilizers would be bought in bulk.
It was learned that the DA under the stimulus program of All Today, Adequate Counter COVID-19 (ALPAS to COVID-19) allotted P5.69 billion for the purchase of urea fertilizer.
Joseph Canlas, chairman of the Farmers’ Alliance in Central Luzon, asked the Ombudsman to investigate the questionable supply contracts motu propio.
In March 2004, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that Senator Panfilo Lacson accused President Arroyo of vote-buying by authorizing the release of ₱728 million. The money was supposed to be used for the purchase of fertilizers, which would be distributed to the local officials.