PCA chief suspended over corruption allegations
MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) administrator Avelino Andal is being investigated by the Office of the Cabinet Secretary that recently placed him under preventive suspension following allegations of corruption.
Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. issued the board resolution to suspend Andal “to conduct an unhampered investigation upon deliberation of recent events involving the administrator.”
“There’s an alleged illegal collection of P1.50 per board foot of lumber in Basilan by Andal’s trusted employees.
We also received sworn statements stating that he is the mastermind of such scheme,” said Cabinet undersecretary Halmen Valdez in a text message.
Although the amount sounds small, she pointed out that it would actually amount to P90 million when 400,000 trees would be cut as part of the debris management process of the post cocolisap treatment in Basilan alone.
The same scheme is reportedly done in Mindoro, Marinduque and Quezon provinces.
Andal denied the charge and vowed to continue his work as administrator.
He slammed Valdez, saying she is instituting a grand plan similar to what happened to National Irrigation Administration chief Peter Laviña and National Food Authority head Jason Aquino, who is currently being investigated.
“It’s obvious that there is politics happening here. There’s a grand plan by one undersecretary (Valdez) to get me out. She was the one who ordered some people to issue a complaint letter against me,” Andal said.
He believes that the plot against him is in relation to the nearing release of the P75-billion coconut levy fund.
“I really think that they want to get hold of PCA while looking forward to the time the coco levy funds will be given to farmers via the PCA,” Andal said.
The coconut levy fund amounting to P75 billion is now with Congress and its release is being fast-tracked for the benefit of the industry. It was taken from the taxes imposed on coconut farmers through Presidential Decree 755 issued by dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1975.