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Eastern Samar’s Political War Over Hand Tractors: A Preview of 2010?

August 21, 2009


The elections are still ten months away but the political quarrels are already heating up not only here in Metro Manila but in the rural areas, too.

An interesting case in point is perhaps is the stereotype sleeply and depressed province of Eastern Samar right in the heart of waray-waray countr.

I used the term ‘stereotype sleepy and depressed’ because while Eastern Samar is far from being A-1 progressive, it has been experiencing a measure of economic improvement in recent years.

Knowing this, it’s no surprise that there’s now a congressional battle royale emerging between incumbent Governor Ben Evardine and Congressman Teodolo Coquilla.

Coquilla’s filed a graft case against Evardone over the purchase and distribution to poor farmers of hand tractors with the solon claiming that the Eastern Samar governor defrauded government coffers because the hand tractors were loaned to the farmers at A 50% discount.

I’ll let the Ombudsman do it job.

But the way Evardone, a former journalist, explains it his political rival’s complaint is not worth the paper it’s printed on:

Obviously, he (Coquilla) is running scared because of his non-performance and the groundswell of support I get from the local leaders if I decide to run for Congress against him next year.

Coquila’s complaint is based on a 2006 transaction which was cleared by COA and approved unanimously by the provincial board.

COA did not find any no overpricing in the purchase of hand tractors, pump boat engines and heavy equipment.

It is clear that he (Coquilla) does not know what he is talking about. For his information, the province could even have given the tractors for free but we decided to loan it at 50% discount with a very minimal interest and reasonable grace period to help the farmers. The 50% discount was approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

We adopted this scheme because we don’t want to burden our people but at the same time we don’t want to perpetuate the dole-out practice. In fact some are still requesting for these hand tractors and fishing boat engines.

How can there be misappropriation when the DBP loan of P 165-M was used to purchase brand new farm and fishing machineries and heavy equipment as contained in the loan agreement.

Coquilla should instead tell the people of Eastern Samar where his P210M pork barrel went.
My constituents in the countryside can attest to the fact that the agricultural equipment, machineries and the heavy equipment have contribute substantially to the development of the province.

Coquilla is questioning the assistance program because he is insensitive to the plight of the needy and the less privileged.

From where this writer sits it seems obvious who’s on the side of Eastern Samar’s farmers.


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