The Privilege speech of Representative Emil Ong that exposed Raul Daza's 10,000 hectares ranch in Australia

Thursday February 18, 2016 ()

The background. May 29, 2015. Emil Ong questioned the implementation of a P140M irrigation project in two towns of his district by the National Irrigation Administration as quoted by a Manila Bulletin article of May 29, 2015. The amount was not used for new irrigation projects but instead was used for the old projects that were still under investigation as it was part of the P3M controversial Help for Catubig Agricultural Advancement Project (HCAAP). Ong added, according to the said Manila Bulletin article, that he will be making a privilege speech in the House of Representatives on Monday, June 1, 2015, to have this controversial irrigation project investigated by the proper authorities.

Northern Samar Representative Emil Ong and former Representative Raul Daza
(Northern Samar Representative Emil Ong (left) and former Representative Raul Daza, publicly announces their coalition during a radio interview aired over DYSM in Catarman, Northern Samar)

August 7, 2015. The unexpected coalition of the two political rivals, Raul Daza, a high ranking official of the Liberal Party (LP), former PCGG (Philippine Commission of Good Government) Commissioner, former Governor of Northern Samar; and Emil Ong of the National Unity Party (NUP), was made during their joint appearance and radio interview over local station DYSM marking the first time that the Dazas and the Ongs are to unite purportedly to support Roxas.

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED? The answer is in the privilege speech of Emil Ong below.

Privilege speech of Representative Emil Ong, June 2015

Thank you, Mme. Speaker. Thank you, our respective Floor Leaders. To my distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat. Good afternoon.

I rise on a matter which is close to my heart and more importantly, encompasses my function as a Member of this esteemed august Body.

Mme. Speaker, this humble Representation is now on his third term as a Representative of the Second District of the province of Northern Samar. In the last two terms that I served as Representative, basic infrastructure was my core program which benefited ordinary people like farmers, fisherfolk, students, teachers and the middle class. Along with the thrust to build the basic infrastructure is the objective of uplifting the people from the quagmire of poverty through agricultural development and projects. These I did albeit in a very limited way considering the fact that being a legislator, my main responsibility is to propose legislation for local consumption as well for national application.

In this context, Mme. Speaker, may I be allowed to share with the Members of this august Body and the general public the plight of the foreign-funded Help for Catubig Agricultural Advancement Program (HCAAP). This was earlier mentioned by the distinguished Gentleman of the First District of Northern Samar, Cong. Harlin Castillo Abayon. I believe, Mme. Speaker, that this humble Representation should also be concerned considering that this project belongs to my district in my 10 municipalities of the province of Northern Samar.

Please bear with me as I devote a few minutes to put on record my concern for the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) ODA loan project of the province of Northern Samar in the amount of 5.210 million yen or roughly P2.5 billion by virtue of a loan agreement incurred in May of 2001 to promote agricultural productivity and increased production in Catubig Valley in the Central Eastern Northern Samar by developing primary agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation facilities, thereby contributing to higher incomes for local farmers and for the improvement of public health and sanitation conditions. This project, Mme. Speaker, is what we now know as the Help for Catubig Agricultural Advancement Program or HCAAP.

The crux of the matter is whether or not such project was fully implemented in accordance with the objectives set at the policy and planning levels. This Representation believes and records show that the target completion date of December 2007 was never accomplished. The revised project completion date of December 2010 was not met, hence, another extension was set in 2012. As of today, as per report from the Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary Alcala himself, during the budget hearing, only a few hectares have been irrigated by the Catubig Dam which is the major component of the HCAAP and this is negated by our local farmers that actually, the irrigated hectares did not come from the HCAAP dam but rather from the various canals made by the DA and the DSWD projects on food-for-market project, not from the HCAAP.

Help for Catubig Agricultural Advancement Project
(Embassy of Japan's Deputy Chief of Mission Minister Motohiko Kato (third from right) cut the ceremonial ribbon during the inauguration of the Catubig Dam, a component of the HCAAP project, held on June 5, 2010 in Catubig, Northern Samar.. Assisting Minister Kato were (from right): JICA Senior Representative Kazuhiko Ueno, Congressman Paul R. Daza, Northern Samar Governor Raul A. Daza, NIA Deputy Administrator Antonio Galvez and Provincial Board Member Albert Lucero)

Mme. Speaker, the beneficiaries of this irrigation project, which is a very good project, could have helped 580 farm families in the municipality of Catubig alone. There is no land preparation at all. The rice paddies were never developed and according to Secretary Alcala, all the other components have not been accomplished. The amount of three hundred million pesos was allotted by the provincial government of Northern Samar for farm-to-market road. However, when Secretary Alcala went to inspect the said farm-to-market road, he was completely surprised that not a single kilometer has been cemented and according to him, in his own words, “What happened to this P300-million farm-to-market road?” The farmers shouted, “Secretary Alcala, your farm-to-market road has been known as farm-to-pocket road.” In other words, the P300 million went to the corrupt officials of the province of Northern Samar. Kaya tinagurian iyong aming farm-to-market road as farm-to-pocket road. I repeat, nabulsa iyong P300 million—hindi farm-to-market road kundi farm-to-pocket road. Who else could have pocketed that except the highest government official headed by the Governor, the previous Governor Paul Daza of the province of Northern Samar?

Mme. Speaker, the project is geared towards promoting sustainable agriculture and economic development in the province of Northern Samar by raising the income level of the farmers, generating new employment opportunities, as well as improving the social infrastructure and services of various communities in Catubig and Las Navas, municipalities which are considered the rice granaries of the province of Northern Samar.

Indeed, this is a very sad plight because irrigation is a most vital component, yet, we have been left behind. The province of Northern Samar, according to the National Irrigation Administration, posts only 27 percent in irrigation development; Whereas the NIA statistics state that we are nationally 55 percent already irrigated. So, we are almost 50 percent behind. In a report written on July 2, 2011, a storm hit the area and they uncovered how poorly the dam was constructed. The National Irrigation Administration reported that the contractors of this irrigation project have a slippage of 15 percent, which is a violation of the standard set by the Procurement Act.

At this juncture, Deputy Speaker Abad relinquished the Chair to Deputy Speaker Roberto V. Puno.

The report further said that Hanjin, the Korean construction company which contracted this project, refuses to do the repair of the damaged dam, and the reason for this refusal was not disclosed by the National Irrigation Administration. The refusal by Hanjin to repair the P900- million structure was very suspicious and stories were circulating that Hanjin was not probably paid in full, and that millions of pesos were missing. Again, this information was not disclosed by the National Irrigation Administration. Now, the main contracting firm, the Korean firm Hanjin, is nowhere to be found. Totally, they abandoned the project.

Mr. Speaker, the HCAAP is a loan that must be paid back and it is the Filipino people?s taxes that will be paying for it. This is a case of misuse and abuse of the people?s money. This is not ordinary plunder. This is a “super plunder” considering the amount of P2.5 billion and the P300 million of the province of Northern Samar, or a total of P2.8 billion. It is for this reason, Mr. Speaker, that I request this august Body to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, so that proper charges could be filed, if necessary.

Congressman Abayon, in his privilege speech, made mention of the father-and-son leadership responsible for the quagmire that put the people of Northern Samar—meaning, former Deputy Speaker Raul Daza and his son, Gov. Paul Daza. This Representation likewise has been consistent in his stand regarding the anomaly behind the HCAAP.

The Commission on Audit (COA) until now has not come up with any audit report despite this Representation?s request to investigate and audit the same. Why should the COA come up with a report on the Congressmen on the various NGOs? Why did she not report this P2.5 billion scam which is far greater than what she reported: about a certain Congressman having put P3 or P4.5 million to the NGOs? This is in billions of pesos.

What was anomalous is, no less than the ambassador of Australia paid a courtesy call in my office, Mr. Speaker, and said, “Mr. Congressman, are you aware that Gov. Raul Daza is one of the biggest ranchers in Australia? He owns 10,000 hectares of ranch with 10,000 heads of cattle.” I asked the ambassador, “Are you sure about this?” “Yes, Congressman Ong, I personally had this confirmed by going to the Office of Cong. Raul Daza and he was even very proud. He said, „Yes, I am the owner and my daughter is the one managing the said cattle ranch in Australia.? ” Pinagyabang pa raw.

Mr. Speaker, babayaran po natin itong utang, yet, napunta na pala sa Australia. When I asked the ambassador, “Mr. Ambassador, in Philippine money, how much would it cost to have a 10,000 hectares of cattle ranch in Australia? Easily, it would be P1 billion.” Saan kaya kumuha ang kagalang-galang na dating Deputy Speaker ng P1 billion?

Si Chief Justice Renato Corona was impeached by this House for failing to explain a condominium unit, and former Congressman Daza was one of the prosecutors. Ito po, si dating Dep. Speaker Raul Daza, hindi lang condominium unit ang pag-aari—may mansion sa Greenhills, may mansion sa Alabang.

Noong pumunta siya rito sa Pilipinas, this humble Representation was even the one who paid for his airplane ticket from Los Angeles to Manila and I even accompanied him to rent an apartment in Sampaloc.

Noong nasa PCGG siya, sinabi sa akin ni Secretary Roño, "Congressman Ong, itong inyong Congressman is one of the highest jumpers. Talo pa ang Olympic jumper." From Sampaloc, tumalon sa Greenhills dahil may mansion na raw sa Greenhills.

Another issue, Mr. Speaker, that this Representation would like to raise before this Body is the continued reign of terror by some members of the Philippine National Police, led by Provincial Police Supt. Isaias Tonog, the man of former Cong. Raul Daza and former Governor Paul Daza, and he continues to perpetuate alleged crimes like the murder of Brg. Capt. Bert Sosing Palco of Cabarian in Pambujan and other forms of harassment in the province. Police Superintendent Tonog has been assigned to other areas but reports abound that he continues to direct his men in the perpetration of these alleged crimes.

Police Superintendent Tonog was previously charged and has been found guilty by the Sangguniang Bayan for murder, corruption and rape, and also for drug pushing but fortunately for him, I think, the law office of Daza appealed his case in the Supreme Court and it was reversed by the High Court. Because of that, he was assigned back to the province of Northern Samar as the provincial director in my province in the last election.

In the light of this issue, Mr. Speaker, may I bring to the proper committee?s attention this ongoing onslaught against barangay officials and the people as this is clearly a glaring violation of their rights to peace and privacy.

One week before the election, one of our mayors and his son were shot in cold blood right beside their home in the municipality of Victoria. The culprit, the leader of Congressman Daza went inside, and he was never arrested by the provincial director. I went on air that night and pledged this to the father-and-son tandem: “I am here at the DYSM Radio Station. I am going to withdraw my candidacy as Congressman and will ask my brother, Governor Jun Ong, to withdraw his candidacy also. I will support your candidacy and even campaign for your son?s gubernatorial candidacy provided you pledge to me that you will never shoot anymore our leaders especially our mayor. I will wait for you until 12:00 midnight, please come and sign a pledge that you will stop murdering our leaders. We are not that desperate to become Congressman or governor, because my leaders? lives can never be resurrected. So, we would rather withdraw and support your candidacy, basta mangako ka lang na huwag mo namang patayin ang aming mga leaders.” Hindi siya sumipot.

Marami po ang umiyak sa mga leaders ko, kaya marahil, pagdating ng eleksyon, ang tao ang humusga. My brother won an overwhelming 48,000 majority votes over his son, Paul Daza, the first time in the history of Northern Samar that such a big margin was won by a governor. Noon, nananalo lang sila ng 3,000 o 1,500. This humble Representation, hindi naman to boast, won by 28,000 votes over my closest rival.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I thank this Body for hearing me out, for bearing with me despite this late hour. This Representation is optimistic that in the performance of our duties as Representatives of the people, only the best of intentions shall be our utmost objective for the greater good and for the greater number of our people. Maraming salamat po at mabuhay tayong lahat.

Sources

  1. Privilege speech of Representative Emil Ong, Philippine House of Representatives website (http://www.congress.gov.ph/download/basic_16/PS042_Rep.%20Ong.pdf)
  2. P140-M irrigation project in Northern Samar questioned, Manila Bulletin, May 29, 2015 (http://www.mb.com.ph/p140-m-irrigation-project-in-northern-samar-questioned/)
  3. In Northern Samar–Ong, Daza forge 2016 alliance, Leyte Samar Daily Express, (August 17, 2015) http://www.leytesamardailynews.com/in-northern-samar-ong-daza-forge-2016-alliance/
  4. http://www.ph.emb-japan.go.jp/pressandspeech/press/pressreleases/2010/56.htm


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