Press Release
September 18, 2011


Q: On P7.5 billion farm-market road fund

Mula Enero hanggang Hunyo 2010, P7.5 billion ang nai-release sa farm-to-market roads sa Department of Agriculture. Ito ay aming natuklasan sa Oversight Committee on Public Expenditures at ito ay aming tinitingnan kung lahat bang ito ay nagamit dahil sa aming initial investigation mukhang malaki ang nawawala. Hindi pa namin alam kung magkano ang nawawala but a substantial portion of the P7.5 billion could not be accounted for in terms of road construction, length, quality. We are investigating that now in the Oversight Committee on Public Expenditures. We have not yet come to any conclusion. What we just have is our initial finding that a good portion of this could not be accounted for. The non-existence of these roads, or they are not of the quality that they are represented to be, or not of the length that they are supposed to be. During the hearings of the DA, sinabi nila na meron silang Global Positioning System (GPS) kung saan talagang tinitingnan nila kung ang hinihingi bang farm-to-market roads ngayon ay hindi hiningi nung nakaraang taon, kaya ang nangyayari nagiging multi-level farm-to-market road. The same farm-to-market road is funded regularly. Yan po ang isa sa mga bagay na aming tinitingnan at nilalabas para hindi na maulit.

Q: May mga areas na bang na-identify?

Meron nang areas but we are not yet prepared to make it public as we are still on the preliminary stage.

Q: Parang fertilizer fund scam?

Pwedeng parang fertilizer fund scam. Ang tawag ko rito ay road to my farm allocation. Hindi farm-to-market (but) road to my farm.

Q: May mga areas ba na nabigyan ng fertilizer fund na nakita rin nyo?

I cannot determine.

Q: Dati po ba walang GPS ang DA?

Dati wala po at yan ay bago nilang initiative para maiwasan ang layers of farm-to-market roads in the same barangays.

Q: Initially may denial si former DA Sec Arthur Yap.

Of course that would be denied. We do not expect him to admit this but the fact is it's on record that P7.5 billion was released.

Q: Pagpapaliwanagin ba si Yap?

We have no intention of inviting him to the Senate. We will, at a certain point, after we have substantially completed the investigation, amin pong ire-refer ito sa Blue Ribbon committee at sa committee on agriculture ng Senado at ang mga komite na yan ang magpapasya kung sino ang kukumbidahin?

Q: May Blue Ribbon investigation ulit?

That is a matter for the Blue Ribbon to decide. What I will just do is file a resolution once I have completed my investigation, refer the evidence that I have gathered in the committee on public expenditures to the Blue Ribbon and committee on agriculture.

Q: So far lahat ng farm-to-market roads wlang nag-e-exist?

Hindi ko sinasabing walang nag-e-exist. Sinasabi ko na merong hindi nag-e-exist. Merong mga kalahati lamang, merong yung quality... yun bang mayroong bato at buhangin may kalsada na... mga ganoong klase so iba-iba.

Q: Si FG Arroyo pumuntang Germany for medical reasons.

I have no comment on that.

Q: Kahit may plunder case?

Yes. He has not yet faced the court.

Maybe I'll brief you on the hearing on DepEd. I'm glad to note that the DepEd is seriously studying revising the school calendar. Sa pag aaral ng DepEd, kung ikukumpara mo ang school year mula January-May, i-compare mo June-December, mas malaki nang di hamak ang school disruptions during the 2nd half of the year dahil sa ulan as compared to the 1st half. Mas marami ang school suspensions sa 2nd half of the year as compared to the 1st half. That is quite obvious. They will now have to review the school year and see whether or not they can make adjustments. They are just in the process of studying this proposal which I have made sometime back. Our schoolchildren, if the school calendar is revised, will be less exposed to the very adverse weather conditions during the 1st half of the year, especially here in Metro Manila. Pagkatapos yung kahirapan sa transportasyon during the rainy season when we see a lot of kids wading through floods going to school. I am glad that the study is being done and hopefully we can get something more concrete in the next few weeks in this proposal. I will press the DepEd to make a decision on this. I am just suggesting to them that a decision be made because in my view, all indications would lead to the need to revise our school year for the benefit of everyone. Suspension of classes means less time in the classroom. Less time in the classroom means less absorption by our schoolchildren.

The second point in the budget of the DepEd is they will now have to review their costing of school-building program. They have P18 billion allocated for school buildings at the cost of P650,000 per classroom. For the same amount, under the program that I have with the Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce, we are going to build two classrooms with toilet and a blackboard. Susundin namin ang specifications ng DepEd. Nakakabuo ang Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce ng dalawang classrooms for the same amount. Of course may profit yung contractors ng DepEd at DPWH, ngunit palagay ko naman yung 100% tubo ay medyo sobra-sobra. Kaya ito ay kanilang pinag aaralan kung paano nila maibababa ang cost ng kanilang school building. They can double the number of classrooms for the same amount that I have been doing with the Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce. Right now, in this term, I have already allocated P75 million for these classrooms and we will allocate some more using the standard of a 7x9 meters of standard classroom of DepEd.

Q: Yung paglilipat ng school opening kailangan ng legislation?

I have to ask whether or not they are authorized under the law to do that. If they are not authorized under the law and the advice of the DepEd that it is a program that would benefit everyone, we will activate the legislation that we have filed on this and push for its passage.

Q: Sir bakit doble ang quotation nila sa classrooms? Nasagot ba nila yon?

They said contractor's tax, contractor's profit, but as we were pointing out, this may be correct but this does not account for the double the amount.

Q: Is that an indication of overprice?

I do not want to go into that. It's just that that is a fact. I don't want to jump into that conclusion. The fact is once we construct, under my pork barrel, with the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce, (classroom) only costs 50%. We are building classrooms at the cost of P5,000 per square meter. Doon sa DPWH-DepEd program, they are building the same classroom for P10,000 per square meter.

Q: Will you suggest that they partner with the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce?

Hindi naman kaya ng federation lahat yan. I'm not saying that they reduce their cost by half but make it a reasonable item.

Q: Should the CoA look into that disparity?

Yes the CoA should look into it. May portion ang CoA report 'value for money' sinasabi eh. That's a proper area for a CoA inquiry.

Q: Yung concern ng public school teachers na maliit na budget para sa chalk

Hindi ko pa natanong.

Q: Nakaka-affect ba sa CCT yung dropout rate?

A component of CCT is P300 per month for kids between the ages of 1-14, which is school age, kindergarten to elementary. A kid would be entitled to P300 per month up to 3 children in a family. The condition is that he must attend 85% of the school days in a month. Therefore, under this premise, there must be a reduction in the dropout rate from the present 24 or 26 for every 100, to a number which could be reasonable for this CCT program. This is what it is designed for: to encourage attendance. Unfortunately, they are not yet ready. But this is now a standard that I would like to see the CCT program followed, which would be the basis for judging whether or not it is making a dent on our dropout rates. The connection should be very logical although that is not yet accepted by the DepEd because they are saying that there is a lot of factors that affect the dropout rate. That may be true but certainly there should be an improvement in our survival rate as a result of the CCT because that is what it is designed for.

Q: Sir kapag hindi na-stem ang dropout rate, possible for the committee to call for its abolition?

Firstly we cannot determine that in this budget. maybe in future deliberations, that will now be a factor that will influence the future committee and the Senate to determine whether or not this program will continue to expand, as it is proposed to expand, or should be carefully examined. I am not making that conclusion today because the data could not yet be culled from the present attendance rates because it is relatively new. You cannot make conclusions today but that is part of the study that should be done and they have agreed to do.

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