Fisherfolk group says Pres. Aquino gains a ‘triple platinum lies’

THE left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday described the gains of the eight month Aquino administration as ‘triple platinum lies’.

“What achievements Mr. Aquino are talking about? The so-called gains of his administration are empty, first-rate propaganda and triple platinum lies all rolled into one,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

President Aquino cited the rebidding of overpriced contracts entered into by his predecessor former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as one of the achievements of his administration in a speech he delivered on Saturday at the 2011 Philippines Development Forum at Sofitel Hotel. Aside from the rebidding of overpriced contracts, the President also cited the adoption of zero-based budgeting approach, the increase in the budget for the conditional cash transfer (CCT) and the P 300-million savings from the P 1 billion worth of projects rebidded by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) since assuming the presidency last year.

But Pamalakaya’s Hicap said Mr. Aquino will further drain the national coffers through the rebidding instead of junking previous contracts and projects clinched by the Arroyo administration.

The Pamalakaya leader cited the case of Laguna Lake rehabilitation project as an example. Hicap said Aquino junked the P 18.7 B Laguna Lake Dredging Project in favor of a worse project known as the P 200-B Laguna Lakeshore Project that would entail the construction of 100-kilometer ring dike across the lake that would cost Filipino taxpayers money by 200 billion pesos more and would displace 400,000 fishing and urban poor families along the lake.

“So this is the concrete achievement his administration is hyping about. Exploit billions of hard earned taxpayers money and kill people’s livelihood and deny the marginalized people their collective housing rights in favor of this market-oriented, investment centered and super profit motivated development projects,” said Hicap.

Pamalakaya said the President’s speech at the Philippine Dev elopement Forum was a promotional blitz to upcoming Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects which will cost the Filipino taxpayers’ another P 96-billion in hard earned taxes.

The militant group was referring to the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) ambitious P 96 billion public-private partnership (PPP) projects in agriculture sector.  Pamalakaya earlier referred this project as potential blockbuster crime of corruption in the making, which is bound to surpass previous anomalies in the department such as the P 728 million fertilizer fund scam in 2004, the P 5 billion swine scam in 2003, the P 455-M ice-making machine scam in 2009 to mention a few.

“The P 96- B PPP adventure may turn into one of the biggest future money making projects of the present administration. How can you entrust such enormous sum of taxpayers’ money to a government agency which is known all over the country as bastion of corruption?  The worst side of the equation is that big business and not the hungry and starving Juan de la Cruz in their tens of millions would benefit from these PPPs initiated by the agriculture department” the Pamalakaya leader asserted.

Pamalakaya said the P 96 billion fund for PPP projects in agriculture was initiated by agriculture department to attract foreign investors and other big corporations to invest in local agriculture, water and power utilities.  The Pamalakaya official said the government would be spending huge amount of Filipino taxpayers’ money to provide idle capital the room for grand accumulation.

It said the PPPs also provided the needed infrastructures, technical and logistical support to investors planning to invest in highly profitable business in the country like food and agriculture, water and power.

‘Imagine, the Filipino people will shell out billions of pesos of public funds and spend these hard-earned taxes for support infrastructures needed by foreign investors and domestic monopolies through the PPP scheme,” said Pamalakaya

According to Malacanang economic managers, these PPP initiatives of the agriculture department were submitted last October to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).  The agriculture agency said the biggest of the initial 17 projects is the P18.5-billion Balog-Balog multipurpose project in Tarlac, which will supply irrigation water to 21,935 hectares of rice field, and supplemental water to 12,475 hectares under the existing irrigation system.

The DA said the Balog-Balog multipurpose project will also generate an estimated 43.5 megawatts (MW) of hydroelectric power. Another project lined up under PPP is the P15.67-billion Balintingon reservoir multipurpose project, expected to irrigate 14,900 hectares of rice fields in the eastern Central Luzon and generate 30 MW of primary energy for the Luzon grid.

In Iloilo, the DA said the P15.2 billion Jalaur river multipurpose project will supply irrigation water to 12,000 hectares of rice fields, supplemental water to 22,340 hectares under the existing irrigation system, and about 11.5 MW of hydroelectric power as well as domestic water supply for the locality.

Another PPP project is slated in Ilocos Norte irrigation which will cost about P14.99 billion while the Kabulnan-2 multipurpose irrigation and power project in Mindanao will cost around P14.4 billion. Both projects will provide irrigation to their respective localities and water and hydroelectric power for domestic use.

Other projects in the list that are open for the PPP program are the P1.3-billion cold-chain system project, the P1.42-billion grains central and bulk handling facility, the P1.5 billion logistics support on agri-fishery products supply chain, the P2.34 billion Tumauini river multipurpose project, and the P3.385-billion Matuno river development project.

Also included in the DA’s list are the P1.79-billion Philippine dairy development project, P2.2 billion organic rice farming program, P2.8 billion integrated agri-food park, P850-million agricultural commodity exchange system, P5-million contract farming, P15 million integrated Lucban longganisa processing project, and P50-million aquaculture or mariculture project.

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