MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis Pangilinan filed a resolution on Wednesday calling on the Blue Ribbon committee to investigate allegations of corruption involving presidential appointees to the Philippine Coconut Authority.
Pangilinan filed Senate Resolution No. 338 following the March 15 order by Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., who chairs the PCA Governing Board, suspending Administrator Avelino Andal for allegedly extorting P1.50 per board foot from the cutting of coconut palms in Basilan, Mindoro, Marinduque and Quezon, and issuing an order collecting fees on transport permits.
The fees collected purportedly totaled as much as P90 million in Basilan alone.
Earlier, Pangilinan dismissed Andal’s claim that the “yellows,” the derisive term used by the administration to describe its predecessors and critics, were behind the “evil scheme to undermine the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte” by getting him out.
“Blaming the Liberal Party for their own internal conflict concerning serious accusations of corruption has become the easy recourse of top government officials,” said Pangilinan, former Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization and president of the LP, which dominated the previous administration.
Andal also claimed Undersecretary Halmen Valdez had orchestrated the “scheme” against him since he used to be connected with Pangilinan’s former office.
But Pangilinan noted in the resolution that he resigned from the post on September 30, 2015, months before Valdez joined the office.
Andal has also claimed the accusations against him are connected to the anticipated enactment of Senate Bill 1233 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act.
The bill, pending on second reading in the Senate, proposes to establish the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund estimated at about P100 billion in cash and assets for the benefit of the coconut farmers and the development of the coconut industry.
“The ongoing rift and grave accusations heaved between PCA and the Office of the Cabinet Secretary cast serious doubt on the integrity, capacity, and reliability of PCA to administer the proposed trust fund which must be investigated,” Pangilinan noted in the resolution.