Thursday, October 30, 2008

Local swine scam exposed

The Commission on Audit has exposed what is deemed to be the local version of the “swine scam” involving top officials of the Dumaguete city agriculture office.
The Commission on Audit (COA) has uncovered several anomalies involving city agriculturist Engr. Alfredo delos Santos and staff in his office, in connection withy the city government’s Swine Fattening–Grow-Now-Pay-Later-Project (GNPLP).
The Swine Fattening Grow-Now-Pay-Later-Project (GNPLP) aims to give recipients the feeds required for swine fattening.
Under this program the recipients, after selling the fattened swine, will pay the value of the feeds they had received, plus one percent.
The COA has found out that there is an unaccounted balance or “shortage” or “deficiency” in the financial records of this project.
The COA has also found out that the beneficiaries of this swine fattening project were the wife of the city agriculturist, and three of his staff.
The COA also discovered that after public funds were released to purchase the swine feeds, not a single centavo has been repaid to the city government, since the repayments by the beneficiaries were diverted and treated as “revolving fund” in the name of the management committee.
“As of December 31, 2007, not a single centavo has been returned to the city,” the COA reported.

Conflict of interest

The city agriculturist, Engr. Alfredo Delos Santos, appears to be suffering from a conflict of interest.
The COA reported: “An examination of the list of recipients/beneficiaries showed three (3) employees of the City Agriculturist’s Office availed of the program.”
The COA reported added: “An immediate member of the OIC City Agriculturist availed of the program five (5) times, for total loaned amount of P62,837.00.”

“Real Intent” questioned

“This fact raises questions as to the real intent of the project considering that this office is the proponent and implementor” said the COA,
The COA said officers of the city agriculturists office should have inhibited themselves from becoming beneficiaries.
In fact, the signatory to the memoranda of this Swine fattening project was the OIC City agriculturist (Engr. Alfredo Delos Santos) himself, thus making the agreements with his family and staff high questionable, the COA said.

Delos Santos defends wife

In response to these COA findings, Engr. Alfredo Delos Santos defended his wife Cleta Delos Santos’ involvement as a major beneficiary of the Swine Fattening Grow-Now-Pay-Later-Project.
Delos Santos downplayed his wife’s involvement saying: “The inclusion of Mrs. Cleta Delos Santos and three other employees as recipient/beneficiaries is incident to their being members of the organization which tended to, and supervised the Grow-Now-Pay-Later-Scheme and the Swine Fattening.”
Engr. Delos Santos explained that in fact, Mrs. Cleta Delos Santos was past president of the RIC Motong, and the President of the Federation of Rural Improvement Club of Dumaguete City for 2006 and 2007.
It was actually the association of Federation of Farmers Association that was the recipients/beneficiaries, but being President of both organizations, it was inevitable that their names would be included as recipient, beneficiaries.

Nothing anomalous

City agriculturist Engr. Delos Santos maintained: “There is nothing anomalous for members, particularly officers of the Federation who are involved in the day-to-day operations of the organization because the administration, supervision and operations are counted on them.”
Delos Santos debunked as “misplaced” and “without basis” the allegations of anomaly regarding the beneficiaries of the swine fattening project involving his wife and three of his staff.

Fund shortage confirmed

Meanwhile, Engr. Delos Santos confirmed the shortage in the swine fattening program amounting to P21,000.00.
In the investigation it appeared that a portion of the feeds intended for the Grow-Now-Pay-Later-Project were “intentionally used” as feeds for the city Farmstead in 2004.
The farmstead caretaker unfortunately, cannot recall how many bags of feeds were used or consumed in feeding the animals in the city farmstead, Delos Santos explained.

Wife also beneficiary in another project

The COA also reported that Mrs. Cleta Delos Santos, the city agriculturist's wife, is also listed as loan beneficiary in another program under the city agriculture office. Records show the wife also loaned from the Plant-Now-Pay-Later-Program, presumably a project similar to the Grow-Now-Pay-Later-Project. Still, six other employees of the city agriculture office were listed as recipients of this project.
Mrs. Cleta Delos Santos must be a very active individual.
Her name crops up in the money-related loan projects in the government department that her husband heads.

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