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P162-M DENR projects in Bicol exist

Thursday, February 26, 2009 [ ]

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Wednesday denied allegations of some local government officials that the reforestation projects in the Bicol region worth P162 million do not exist.

DENR-Bicol Regional Executive Director Joselin Marcus Fragada denied The Manila Times story on “ghost reforestation project” in the Bicol Region saying that the three-year project was just started in November 2008.

In the story published last Monday, Mayors Evelyn Yu of Calabanga town and Romy San Luis of Pili town in Camarines Sur claimed that the DENR reforestation projects worth P162 million were non-existent.

Fragada explained that the first budget allotted is P33 million for the project but the money was not completely released in late 2007, and the remaining fund was given to the Regional office in middle of 2008.

Fragada stepped in as regional executive director for Region 5 last March 2008.

“Supposedly, the fund will be a World Bank loan but since the process will take longer, the DENR has allocated a budget, from the annual budget of the department, to start the project,” Fragada further explained referring to the first budget allotted for the project.

Moreover, Fragada said that only P38 million was release to the contractors from the P54 million released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

The project has generated jobs to some 2,134 individuals in the Bicol region.

Fragada explained that the P54 million is part of the P129-million additional budget allotted for the reforestation project in the Bicol region and the remaining P75 million is still with the DBM.

“The 38 million was released to people’s organization, NGOs and contractors for their mobilization fund and payment per accomplishment submitted,” Fragada explained in a phone interview adding that the regional office does not pay the contractors without submitting an accomplishment report.

Fragada also said that the DENR Bicol region has planted a total number of seedlings of 2.126 million in an area of 4,054.3 hectares. He added he has videotapes that would validate his claim.-- Ira Karen Apanay


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