Don’t let DA off the hook on overpriced fertilizer — farmers

Get to the bottom of the “2020 Fertilizer Scam”

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today said the Department of Agriculture is not yet absolved on the overpriced fertilizer supply contract that was questioned by farmers from Tarlac and Nueva Ecija last week. “We must get to the bottom of this matter and make accountable those who are involved in the negotiated bidding for the emergency purchase of P1.8-billion worth of fertilizer.” 

“The resolution of this issue is imperative especially since DA will procure another P3.8-billion worth of fertilizer. The next bidding must be put on hold until this matter on the P1.8-billion fertilizer contract is resolved,” says Rafael Mariano, chairperson emeritus of KMP.

On April 28, DA posted an invitation to bid for the supply and delivery of 5.69 million bags of urea fertilizer with an approved budget of P5.69 billion.

“Ayaw natin maulit ang kontrobersyal na P728-million Jocjoc Bolante fertilizer scam na walang naparusahan at nanagot. Corruption is unconscionable especially as farmers are now demanding immediate production aid,” Mariano said.

DA conducted bidding for the 1,811,090 bags of urea fertilizers for P1.8 billion or a price tag of P1,000 per bag. Farmers reiterate that the prevailing average price of urea is pegged only at P850 per bag. The total contract could be overpriced by at least P271.66 million. 

The winning bidders are La Filipina Uy Gongco Corporation for the delivery of 97,615 bags at P990/bag to Region 4A; 694,904 bags at P995/bag to Region 6, and 911,073 bags at P995/bag to Region 3, on May 8, 2020, and May 14, 2020, respectively; and Atlas Fertilizer for the delivery of 107,498 bags at P900/bag to Region 7 on May 14, 2020. 

DA initially denied the fertilizer scam, saying they will disclose all information regarding the bidding and procurement. DA said it based the bidding price on the price monitoring of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority for the period of April 27 to May 1 and that transport and other cost were incorporated in the final cost amounting to Ph1000/bag of fertilizer.

Farmers said recent purchases of urea fertilizer showed a bag could fetch for P830 in Tarlac, P810 in Pangasinan, and P840 in Nueva Ecija. “Mayroon pa ngang Buy 2 Take 2 na fertilizer na ibibigay ang DA. Ipapakita lang ng magsasaka ang resibo at bakanteng sako ng urea, mabibigyan siya 2 pang sako ng pataba ayon sa Rice Resiliency Program ng DA sa Region 3,” says Joseph Canlas of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon.

This issue further raised suspicion because reports stated that the winning bidder La Filipina, does not also have available stocks of urea fertilizers nor it has shown any bill of lading to prove that it had an incoming supply of urea fertilizers and yet it still bagged the contract. 

The fertilizer supply was procured as part of the DA’s Rice Resiliency Program that aims to increase the country’s rice production from 87 percent to 93 percent by the end of 2020. Mariano fears of more corruption if this issue goes unchecked, especially since the entire P31.5B budget for Plant, Plant, Plant or ALPAS-COVID program are lump sum funds without detailed project allocation.###

[Image from Businessworld]

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