Full account on P2.3-B fund for border inspection facility sought

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III on Tuesday said he will ask the Department of Agriculture (DA) and its attached agencies to give a full account of the PHP2.3 billion budget given to them from the 2023 General Appropriations Act. At the hearing of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights and Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture, Pimentel said there must be full accountability of the PHP2.3 billion budget intended for the First Border Facility (FBF) as next year’s budget deliberation is nearing. ‘Hahanapin natin ito, saan na-release ang halagang ito, malapit na ang budget cycle (We have to ask for it, where it was released as the budget cycle nears),” Pimentel said. In the same hearing, Senator Cynthia Villar blamed the DA for not implementing FBF when she funded it in 2019. The FBF, according to Villar, was the first testing center for imported agricultural products including various meats — pork, beef and chicken. Villar said the absence of FBF was the main reason for the spread of African swine fever (ASF) and other diseases coming from imported products. ‘Ang DA, ayaw mag-construct, kahit may ibigay sa kanilang pondo (The DA don’t want to construct even if we gave them funds),” Villar said. Under the 2023 budget, she said, FBF must be constructed in Bulacan, Cebu and Davao City, adding the fund was allocated years ago despite the private sectors agreeing to lend their establishment for FBF. Last December, Villar asked the support of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to establish at least three FBF in different areas of the country

Source: Philippines News Agency