Press Release
September 22, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara challenged the Department of Agriculture and the Senate Oversight Committee on Agriculture to conduct a full and fair audit of the P10 billion Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF).

Angara, author of the law establishing ACEF, took exception to reports singling him out as a beneficiary of the funds, having allegedly benefited from irregularities in the fund's utilization.

"I call for--and welcome--a performance audit of the ACEF. They should publish all the names of the beneficiaries of ACEF, from day one to present, whether individuals, corporations, provinces or universities," said Angara, a former secretary of Agriculture. "It should be very easy to trace where the money went and how it was used. I see no reason not to publish this information, unless there really are ghost beneficiaries."

Angara's home province of Aurora received a total of P300 million from the ACEF--P100 million for the Aurora State College of Technology's (ASCOT) Enhancement of Technology-Based Agribusiness Industry in 2007, and P200 million for the Baler-Casiguran Road in 2008.

ASCOT has been bolstering programs in fisheries, agriculture and forestry, hiring experts and even training farmers and fishermen in the local community.

The Baler-Casiguran road has significantly improved the travel time from Manila to Baler, cutting it from nine hours to five.

Both projects are eligible under the implementing guidelines on the utilization of the fund issued by the Department of Agriculture. Eligible projects include irrigation, farm to market roads, agri-based production, post-production and processing activities, post-harvest equipment and facilities, and training and extension services.

ACEF was enacted through Section 8 of Republic Act 8178 in 1996. The ACEF was created to give funding assistance to farmers, fishermen and entrepreneurs.

"Just because I am a native of Aurora does not mean I made a profit from ACEF," retorted the veteran lawmaker. "Aurora is just one of many provinces that benefitted from ACEF."

He expressed confidence that the funds allotted for the Aurora projects were channeled to the right beneficiaries and properly spent.

"We have results and outcomes to prove that the money was well-spent. There is nothing to hide," said Angara, inviting the Department of Agriculture and the Commission on Audit to visit Aurora and see for themselves.

"Let us conduct an honest-to-goodness performance audit of ACEF to resolve the controversy once and for all, instead of resorting to useless and damaging labeling that characterizes the ACEF as worse than the fertilizer scam. It is irresponsible to single me out and impute irregularities without proof. Do not turn this into a witch-hunt."

News Latest News Feed