Fisherfolk group scores DENR P1-B computer project

MANILA, September 20, 2010—Members of the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamaalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) scored the P1-Billion computer project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), saying that it is just a “brazen wasting of taxpayers’ money.”

The DENR proposes to buy 50,000 computer sets, softwares and web cameras, which, according Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap, is more than twice the number of DENR personnel, citing the latest Department of Budget and Management (DBM) staffing summary.

“This is a large-scale corruption in the making and we are hoping that our lawmakers will nail this down, at the budget deliberation level, before it’s too late,” Hicap said in his email to CBCPNews.

Instead of buying computers, the fisherfolks’ leader said, the DENR should use the money in rehabilitating mangrove forests, making more artificial coral reefs, and improving the health of our in-land and outland waters in order to improve fish production.

The proposal to buy P1-B worth of PCs and other computer paraphernalias was discovered in last week’s congressional budge hearing. It was Pampanga Rep. Anna York Bondoc who questioned the proposed project and asked the DENR if it is planning to reforest the country’s denuded forests with personal computers.

Bondoic also noted that in the National Expenditure Program submitted to the House of Representatives, last year’s budget for reforestation was P900 million while the allocation for computers was P522 million.

However, in today’s DENR proposal, the budget allocated for reforestation was only increased to P1.3 billion while the budget for computers and IT equipment nearly doubled.

Other lawmakers, including the representatives of Congress’s “progressive bloc,” namely ACT Teachers’ Partylist, Anakpawis Partylist, Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Party, and Kabataan Partylist, viewed the proposal scandalous, considering the failure of the agency to implement more practical, cheaper, and lasting measures to protect the country’s natural resources.

“Instead of allowing gambling centers, high rise hotels and other commercial establishments in Manila Bay, the government can use the P-1 Billion for the clean up, reforestation and rehabilitation of Manila Bay from North to South encompassing the areas of Bataan, Bulacan, Navotas, Malabon, Manila, Pasay, Paranaque, Las Pinas and Cavite,” said Hicap. (Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews)