Ex-DA chief willing to talk on P728-M fertilizer scam

July 8, 2010 11:07 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, July 8 — Former Agriculture Secretary and now Bohol Third District Rep. Arthur Yap on Thursday said he has always been cooperative and is willing to cooperate in any inquiries that would be conducted on the so-called fertilizer fund scam.

"I've always cooperated with any government agency. When I was DA secretary, all files needed regarding that case, we surrendered. We attended all the hearings called by the House (of Representatives) and the Senate. We've always cooperated with them," said Yap, who attended an orientation for neophyte lawmakers at the House of Representatives.

President Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III, in his inaugural speech at the Quirino Grandstand last week, mentioned that the P728-million fertilizer fund scam could be one of the issues to be investigated by the Truth Commission, which he formed to investigate the anomalies in the past to be headed by former Chief Justice Hilario Davide.

The issue was again brought back when another former DA Secretary, Cito Lorenzo, returned to the country and expressed his willingness to serve as state witness in the investigation of the scam.

It would be recalled that former Agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn "Joc-joc" Bolante, in previous hearing conducted by the House committee on agriculture, had testified that Lorenzo authorized him to "download money" for the purchase of fertilizer and farm implements in 2004.

Yap, who assumed as agriculture secretary in October 2005, reiterated he is not involved in the fertilizer project when the scam happened in 2004, before the presidential elections.

"I was not in the DA at that time, in the sense that I did not hold any plantilla position. In fact, he (Lorenzo) pulled me out of NFA (National Food Authority) and designated (me) as (DA) undersecretary for Luzon operations to help him. So, that's my role during the time that he (Lorenzo) was secretary of the department," he said.

"He (Lorenzo) was my predecessor. I worked closely with the man. I believe he knows what he wants to do so we just have to respect and support him whatever his decisions will be," he added.

Meanwhile, neophyte lawmakers arrived in the House of Representatives in Batasan, Quezon City as early as 7:30 a.m. for an orientation, which will serve as their new home for the next three years.

The orientation is traditionally given to first-time lawmakers to brief them on legislative proceedings, plenary protocol, and other guidelines and rules in the Lower Chamber.

Among those who attended the orientation include Saranggani Representative and boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, who was wearing a barong tagalog; Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez; Ilocos Norte Rep. and former First Lady Imelda Marcos, who was wearing a purple Filipiniana.

Also spotted in the session hall were Reps. Leopoldo Bataoil, Freddie Tinga, and Cutie del Mar.

Pampanga Rep. and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo showed up at the hall at around 11 a.m., close to three hours after the orientation has started.

Arroyo, wearing a red sleeveless dress, sat at the third row and listened to the talk of Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales Jr. on House rules.

The former president represents the second congressional district of Pampanga, a post previously held by her son, Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo, who will also likely to get a seat in the House through his party-list, "Ang Galing Pinoy".

Other speakers in the orientation seminar for neophyte solons include former Quirino Rep. Junie Cua and La Union Rep. Victor Ortega. (PNA)

DCT/LGI

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