Joc-joc probe to trigger reforms

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — HOUSE Speaker Prospero C. Nogales yesterday expressed confidence that the ongoing public inquiry being conducted by the House committee on agriculture on the alleged “fertilizer scam” will open clear avenues to institute reforms in the fiscal and procurement policies of government to promote rigid public accountability.

“Congressional inquiries should result to better public policies and laws,” Nogales said as he lauded the determination and efforts of Palawan Rep. Abraham Khalil Mitra, chairman of the committee on agriculture, not only of shedding light on the fertilizer fund mess but also of collecting ideas on how to correct the loopholes in the government’s procurement procedures.

Nograles noted that the congressional inquiry is being pursued at the instance of a House resolution filed by Chairman Mitra himself which seeks to correct possible infirmities in public policies relative to disbursement of public funds for the implementation of various programs.

“Prosecution of any possible guilty party on the alleged fertilizer scam falls on the shoulders of the Ombudsman. Congress, through the conduct of public inquiries, can only recommend. Our main concern is the molding of effective public policies and laws to ensure effective and transparent governance,” Nograles said.

Mitra, at the start of the inquiry, declared that the House inquiry into the fertilizer scam should not be taken as a duplication of the Senate hearing.

“What we are after is to correct the system of implementation of said program and prevent its recurrence. We are not tracing the Senate itinerary. We want to correct the loopholes in government policies in the hope of preventing similar occurrences in the future,” Mitra added.

The agriculture panel is set to continue its public inquiry on December 2 and is again expecting the presence of former Agriculture Undersecretary Joc-joc Bolante and other relevant officials as resource persons.