Home » Headline, News

P6.2 billion for reforestation may be used as pork

14 August 2013 No Comment

14 August 2013

Reference: ACT Teachers Representative Antonio L. Tinio (09209220817)

 

ACT Teachers Party-List Representative Antonio L. Tinio said that President Aquino has yet to fully explain why he allotted P6.2 billion for the National Greening Program (NGP), a subject of negative findings by state auditors and researchers.

 

Aquino through Executive Order 26 began the NGP in 2011 as a priority program, aiming to plant 1.5 billion seedlings in 1.5 million hectares nationwide from 2011 to 2016.  With its P6.2 billion for 2014, up by 7% from the 2013 budget, it targets 300 million seedlings in 300,000 hectares nationwide, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials told the Lower House during its budget briefing.

 

However, according to the “value for money” assessment of the Commission on Audit (COA, 2011 Annual Audit Report), the implementation and performance of NGP, given P1.331 billion in its first year, “could not be determined because of the inability of the DENR–OSEC to monitor, conduct validation and overall evaluation.”  DENR did not submit to COA a copy of its program evaluation, and admitted that there was no validation made for 2011, with the guidelines still in the drafting stage as of November 2012.

 

Auditors in nine regions and the Ecosystem Research and Development Bureau also reported unfavorable recommendations, such as lack of accounting of the number of seedlings and delivery of supplies and lack of guidelines in the proper identification of people’s organizations (POs) which work on the sites.

 

From DENR data, it appears that validation of assessment reports mostly rely on sworn statements inspection reports submitted by the very same officials who identify sites and POs.

 

The Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department also found that ” as of December 2011, the NGP is not quite performing well with only 79% fund utilization rate.”  It noted that NCR and Ecosystem Research Development Bureau (ERDB) which did not attain their planting targets have 100% fund utilization, ARMM which had a 0% accomplishment in planting had 100%, and the Central Office only had 1%.

 

Fund utilization has improved as of May 2012, but DENR officials during the budget hearing could not provide data on whether it has installed policies on monitoring and evaluation of the NGP, per the COA recommendations.

 

They, however, reported that it entered into an agreement with the Department of the Interior and Local Government, which directs the two agencies to use Barangay Forest Program Teams identified by the latter to identify and prepare nurseries and plantation sites in some 6,000 rural barangays in 5th and 6th class municipalities.

 

“Considering that DENR has been found to be incapable of monitoring this expensive project, the people have no idea if what are being planted are really trees or something else, like political patronage,” said Tinio.  “In light of the P10 billion-PDAF scam, DENR has to assure Congress and the people that this P6.2 billion will not go into dummy POs or any other Napoleses.”

 

“Without sufficient guidelines to ensure transparency, the NGP funds will just serve as pork barrel for those empowered to dispense it,” he added.  “In absence of these guidelines, we demand for the realignment of this pork to social services like education, health, or housing.”#

 

Comments are closed.