How did the Province of Cotabato implement the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program?


The Province of Cotabato implemented the SAAD program by entering into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Agriculture NOT JUST ONCE BUT TWICE.


In December 2016, Acting Governor Shirlyn D. Macasarte entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the DA Regional Field Office 12 regarding SAAD program. The said MOA contained the provision which provided that the Province will receive 50 Million Pesos and to be downloaded for two (2) tranches. The DA then downloaded the amount of P25 Million to the Province of North Cotabato which comprised the first Tranche.


On January 19-20, 2017, DA Regional Office 12 conducted Program Planning and Implementation Conference in Cinco Niñas Resto, Koronadal City for SAAD program. It was attended by OPAG-North Cotabato, LGU-Magpet, Aleosan, Arakan, Pikit, Midsayap, Libungan, Alamada, Kabacan, Makilala, Kidapawan City, Matalam, Pigcawayan, Pres. Roxas, Matalam, Magpet, Banisilan, Carmen, and Antipas.


During this conference some of the highlights were discussed, to wit;


 Mr. Bernard Pacete, SAAD Secretariat Head, DA-RFO 12 stated that the 2016 SAAD Program Work and Financial Plan (W&FP) amounting to P50 Million has been approved for implementation.  However, the initial Project Proposals submitted by North Cotabato LGUs and selected beneficiary-organizations do not correlate with the said approved W&F plan.  Hence, to hasten the implementation of the program, LGU and FO beneficiaries has to finalize their project proposals in conformity with the approved W&F plan.


 Beneficiaries are allowed to revise their approved project proposals provided that the amount allocated for the new proposed project is consistent to the approved Work and Financial plan.  They were requested to submit Justification Letter in view of the revisions made to the DA-Regional and the Provincial Government Office on the revised proposal for approval.
 The Office of the Provincial Agriculturistthrough the SAAD Provincial Coordinatorwill conduct monitoring and evaluation of SAAD projects in the province.


 Ms. Barol explained that the allocated fund for the implementation of 2016 SAAD program in the provinces of North Cotabato and Sarangani was a continuing fund from 2015 DA budget


 Engr. Arlene Cordero, North Cotabato SAAD Focal Person, expressed her concern on the validity/legality of the provincial offices to engage on bidding and procurement procedures despite that the program has no definite policies and guidelines thus far. Mr. Bernard Pacete responded that provinces still has to proceed with the procurement since the budget for 2016 implementation was already approved.  He stressed that PLGUs could revise the Work and Financial Plan in terms of quantity and price per item as long as it is within the budget allocation per Major Final Output (MFO).


On February 16, 2017, Engr. Eliseo M. Mangliwan, then Provincial Agriculturist, sent a Disposition Form addressed to Governor Mendoza with the subject:  Requesting Approval for the Purchase of the Needed Items Worth P25M (First Tranche Fund) to Support the Implementation of Projects under the Special Area For Agricultural Development (SAAD). The Governor then in response instructed the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist and Office of the Provincial Veterinarian to conduct canvass on the current price item in the Work Financial Plan based on current prices of items giving priority as to the quality.


On April 21, 2017, Engr. Eliseo Mangliwan sent a letter addressed to Engr. Milagros C. Casis, requesting for consent for the revision of the Work and Financial Plan for the first tranche worth P25 Million (as per result of canvass of the current price per item).  Revision was deemed necessary to meet the actual prevailing price in the locality. There were items on DA’s supplies that were priced at the very improbable amount compared to the price presented by the Provincial Government.


For instance, DA’s price on Rice Thresher with Engine is only Php85,300.00 per unit while the Provincial Government of Cotabato’s price is Php150,000.00.  Likewise, DA’s price for Corn Sheller with Complete Accessories is only Php800,000.00 compared to the Province’ price of Php1,000,000.00.


On the other hand, there were also items which are of great disparity between the prices presented by the DA vis-à-vis the price canvass of the Province of Cotabato.  In particular is the DA’s price over large cattle at Php50,000.00 per head compared to the Province’ price of only Php25,000.00.  Further, is the price of the hybrid corn to which DA set it at the very high cost at Php6,000.00 per bag while the Province set it at the realistic cost of Php3,000 per bag.


 Adding to this, the DA did not provide for the required specifications as to the kind or brand of these Inorganic fertilizers.  Worst, DA evenly priced all inorganic fertilizers at Php1,500.00 per bag irrespective of its kind and quality which should not be the case.


On April 28, 2017, the Provincial Legal Office thru Atty. John Haye C. Deluvio, Provincial Legal Officer, Cotabato Province rendered an opinion docketed as Legal Opinion No. 17-04-295 with reference to the Letter dated April 21, 2017 of Engr. Eliseo M. Mangliwan, Provincial Agriculturist addressed to Engr. Milagros C. Casis, RED, DA-RO 12.


The Legal Office rendered an opinion as follows:


1. In the event that the Provincial Government of Cotabato will adopt the Work and Financial Plan (WFP) as provided by the DA RFO XII, the efficiency of our animal dispersal program will surely diminish as we will be procuring low quality animals in order to meet the allocated budget based in the WFP and to satisfy the fixed number of recipients as previously identified by the DA RFO XII;


2. On the other hand, if the Provincial Government will revise the WFP increasing the purchase price on animals subject for dispersal program, we cannot evade the high probability of decrease in the number of the program’s beneficiaries previously identified by DA RFO XII to meet the budget apportioned in the WFP;


If we will choose the 2nd option, the Provincial Government of Cotabato must obtain the prior approval of the DA RFO XII and the Provincial Government will have to enter into another MOA with the DA RFO XII for said purpose.


3. Lastly, with the fact of the efficiency of our province’ animal dispersal program which have long been implemented and existing up to date, it is the opinion of the undersigned that in case neither of the two (2) options above-presented is viable to the Provincial Government, we may disregard the subject Memorandum of Agreement and return the money already received (P25M).


On May 17, 2017, Engr. Milagros C. Casis, Regional Director, DA-RO 12 sent a reply letter addressed to Gov. Mendoza thru Engr. Eliseo M. Mangliwan, Provincial Agriculturist which expressed concurrence of DA-12 to re-align the Work and Financial Plan and facilitate the procurement of the prioritized interventions at the soonest possible time.


On June 5, 2017, the Provincial Legal Office thru Atty. John Haye C. Deluvio rendered an opinion docketed as Legal Opinion No. 17-06-287 with respect to the approval of the request for re-alignment of various SAAD interventions. Legal Office recommends for the issuance of the new approved Work and Financial Plan as a requirement.  And subsequent to this is the need for the issuance of a new SP Resolution authorizing the Provincial Governor to enter into a new Memorandum of Agreement with the DA.


On June 20, 2017, Engr. Eliseo M. Mangliwan, Provincial Agriculturist, endorsed to Hon. Shirlyn D. Macasarte, RN, Vice-Governor, Cotabato Province, the Legal Opinion No. 17-06-287 dated June 5, 2017 of Atty. John Haye C. Deluvio, Provincial Legal Officer for the issuance of Resolution giving Authority to the Governor of the Province to enter into a new Memorandum of Agreement with the DA for the SAAD projects.


On August 1, 2017, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Cotabato issued a Resolution giving authority to the Provincial Governor to enter into the new Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). On August 9, 2017, Provincial Governor Emmylou J. Taliño-Mendoza signed the new Memorandum of Agreement.


With the foregoing, it is to state that the implementation of the SAAD projects had only commenced in August 9, 2017, when all the prerequisite actions were completed.


Please be reminded that the funds for this SAAD project of the DA was only downloaded to the Province of Cotabato only in December 2016 and to which important preconditions such as SP Resolution and bidding process has to be complied with by the latter for its effective implementation and the MOA was signed by the Provincial Governor only on August 9, 2017.  On the other hand, the Provincial Government of Cotabato thru the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist had already lined-up its various agricultural programs and projects all set for implementation for calendar year 2017.

           Immediately thereafter, the needed supplies for these SAAD projects were subjected for bidding process as mandated by Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.  However, there were supplies that were posted twice and even thrice for scheduled Public Bidding as there was no bidder.  Items that were posted twice between August 2017 to March 2018 are the supply and delivery of goats, native chicken, sprayers, agricultural supplies, rice seeds, petroleum products, and IT equipment.  Whereas, supplies such as upland rice seeds and banana corms had to undergone 3rd posting in November to December 2017.


In the light of the real scenario of the SAAD’s take off in North Cotabato Province, where DA Region 12 hurriedly proceeded in concocting the MOA with LGUs in December 2016 without yet a definite policies and guidelines and without a smooth and approved Work and Financial Plan and further pushing the LGU to proceed with the procurement process just because fund was approved as per the pronouncement made by the Head of the SAAD Secretariat, Mr. Bernard Pacete during the SAAD Conference on January 19-20, 2017 which were the real cause of delay.


The Provincial Government of Cotabato wishes to belie the allegations made by the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Sec. Emmanuel F. Piñol with regard to this SAAD project.


Firstly, Sec. Piñol’s assertion that it was during his term as DA Secretary in the year 2016 that this SAAD project was funded for implementation in the Province of Cotabato is false.  The truth is the fund for this SAAD program started in the year 2015 and not in 2016 because the source of funds downloaded to the Province of Cotabato is a continuing fund from the 2015 budget of the Department of Agriculture.  This was clearly stated by the DA and taken in the Minutes of the Meeting during the SAAD Program Planning and Implementation Conference held on January 19-20, 2017 in Koronadal City.  Even so, nothing is arguable, the fact is that it is a government project funded by the public or from the people’s money.


Secondly, to make it precise, the Province of Cotabato has only a poverty incidence in the year 2015 of 34.5% and not 47% as uttered by the DA Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol.  This isbased on the Poverty Incidence 2015 conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).When the 2012 full year official poverty statistics report of the National Statistics and Coordinating Board (NSCB) had ranked second the Province of Cotabato in terms of poverty incidence of families, Resolution No. 227, dated May 20, 2014 was immediately issued by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Cotabato.  The said Resolution manifested protest and disagreement to the aforecited Report.  


In fact, the Province of Cotabato remains to be a first-class province in terms of income classification and per report of the Bureau of Local Government Finance in Region XII.  It consistently leads in tax/revenue collection in the region. Moreover, the Provincial Government of Cotabato is a recipient of the prestigious Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) award for three consecutive years in 2016-2108.


Thirdly, the allegation made by the DA Secretary that it took two (2) years for the Province of Cotabato to implement the SAAD project is misleading.  To re-state the facts, DA downloaded the funds to the Province of Cotabato only in December 2016.  Thereafter, the necessary and regular requisites had to be complied with such as the needed revision of the MOA to conform to its objective, the issuance of an Authority from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Cotabato to empower the Provincial Governor to represent the Provincial Government of Cotabato in entering into the new (revised) Memorandum of Agreement as mandated by the Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 and for this project’s supplies to undergo the required procurement processin accordance with RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.  All of these requirements were completed only in August 2017.  Hence, it would be factual and correct to state that the implementation of the SAAD project commenced in August 2017 and not in December 2016.   Its implementation therefore did not go beyond the prescribed period.


Moreover, the issue that DA Secretary Manny Piñol is using Government Funds for kins political bids in the Province Cotabato started when President of the Republic of the Philippines, Rodrigo Roa Duterte called for his presence during the assembly of barangay officials of the country as he is nowhere to be found. President Duterte said, “Saan si Piñol,nandito?  Linte na Piñol na Saad ng Saad. In fact, it was shown in the different SAAD activities in the Province of Cotabato that the DA Secretary is present together with his daughter and siblings who are candidates for the different political positionsin the province this coming midterm election.


Also present in this Saad sorties is Governatorial Candidate in the Province of Cotabato and his ally Nancy Catamco who has a pending case filed before the Sandiganbayan after she was charged with two counts of Malversation and one count of Graft over a 5 Million deal under the alleged fertilizer scam.  There is a possibility that the Sandiganbayan will issue preventive suspension against Nancy Catamco.


For this reason, the Association of Free Farmers thru its Vice President Teody De Belen asked the DA Secretary to answer allegations that the Department is using Millions of Government Funds to boost the campaign of his daughter,siblings and political allies.


Finally, there is no truth as to the contention of the DA Secretary that the SAAD project for the Province of Cotabato was instead implemented by his staff.  DA’s implementation plan for this SAAD Program varies in every year.  As for instance, for the year 2016, the DA downloaded the funds to the PLGUs or provinces, while in the year 2017, the DA funds were downloaded direct to the MLGUs or municipalities and for the year 2018, it was the Department itself which directly implemented the project.


This SAAD program of the Department of Agriculture is a very beneficial project aimed to alleviate the welfare of the farmers in the country.  Thus, the Province of Cotabato is among the LGUs who is very supportive on this undertaking.  Every stakeholder is expected to lend its share for its effective implementation.  This is funded from the taxpayers money which ought to be returned to their end by way of government projects and programs beneficial to their way of living.  


Instead then of this unfriendly and unfounded asseverations thrown against the Provincial Government of Cotabato, may we be informed from your end as the good Secretary of the Department of Agriculture the product of accomplishments from this SAAD projects, its beneficiaries, the significant impact of these projects on the lives of our farmers and their families and the great contributions it had made to the economy of our country.


The farmers will even appreciate should the good Secretary provides the farmers, particularly to respond to AFF’s VP Teody De Belen a matrix of SAAD implementation detailing the recipients of farm equipment, farm inputs (seeds and fertilizers), animal dispersal, including fishery assistance, fingerlings, motor boats, bancas and other DA support to the farmers rather than specifically coming up with accusations or unfounded allegations to the political opponents of his siblings, daughter and ally.  Such matrix of report of DA’s SAAD program of implementation will even disprove various allegations of several sectors.


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