LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – An anti-corruption watchdog referred to the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) issues and concerns surrounding the alleged multi-billion peso chicken dung scam in Shilan that has been going on for decades now that have reportedly enriched dozens of former and incumbent politicians.
In his letter to PACC Chairman Dante Jimenez, Citizens Crime Watch (CCW) Cordillera chapter Secretary-General Salvador Liked claimed that it is high time that an independent body will conduct the appropriate investigation on the proliferation of the chicken dung scam that had been existing for decades now because it had been the ‘milking cow’ of dozens of former and incumbent politicians who continue to be blind on the said issue.
He claimed that the main chicken dung trading center is owned by the local government based on available documents and some enterprising government officials and enterprising private individuals are allegedly making lots of money from a government property without paying a single centavo to the municipality.
However, Mayor Romeo K. Salda explained that the purported main chicken dung trading area is now actually the property of the Loy family which acquired the lot from the Cosalan family, thus, the tax declaration being shown by the complainants that indicate that the property is in the name of the local government had already been changed in favour of the actual possessor of the land.
He disclosed that he also referred the complaint against the chicken dung trading area to Tublay Mayor Armando Lauro for proper action considering that the property is within the jurisdiction of Tublay but the subject of a dispute between La Trinidad and Tublay, however, no concrete action has yet been made by Mayor Lauro on the matter.
The CCW-CAR official narrated that based on the revelation of sources involved in the lucrative trade, one 10-wheeler truck loaded with some 650 sacks of chicken dung disposes its load in 2 days and that the alleged ‘tong’ collection being demanded by the said government officials and private individuals amount to P14 per sack and with more than 100 trucks using the trading center daily in the past 10 years, one can imagine the huge amount of money that continues to exchange hands in the said area.
“What makes this act despicable is that our farmers are the ones that are most affected which are eventually passed on to us consumers. This despicable act is also lamentable because instead of the government earning revenues, it is some private individuals and corrupt government officials making money for decades,” Liked stressed.
Mayor Salda explained that even the investigation report of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on the alleged corruption involved in the chicken dung trade cannot pinpoint the officials who are receiving money from the supposed traders because even those manning the trading area could not positively identify the people who are receiving money from them.
He emphasized coming out with sweeping allegations on the officials who are reportedly receiving money from the chicken dung dealers is unfair on their part because innocent individuals are unjustly being dragged into the issue despite their non-involvement to the controversy.
The CCW-CAR official pointed out that it is appropriate for the PACC to initiate the desired investigation to put a stop on the rampant corruption involving some private individuals and corrupt government officials to allow the prices of chicken dung to go down in favour of the farmers.
According to him, once the chicken dung will be stopped, the municipal government will surely have a chance to takeover the property and collect the appropriate minimal fee from the use of the same for the trading of chicken dung that will greatly alleviate the plight of thousands of farmers for cheaper prices of chicken dung considering the excessive selling prices due to the alleged corruption involved in the lucrative trade.
Liked asserted that the perpetrators of the chicken dung scam in the municipality should be brought to the halls of justice for them to suffer their illegal acts that are totally detrimental to the greater interest of the public, especially the farmers who are using the chicken dung as fertilizer for their agricultural produce and the consumers who are made to suffer the high prices of agricultural crops sold in the market.
The complaint was also copy furnished ranking national, regional and local officials for their information and desired action to curb the proliferation of the illegal chicken dung trade in a government property.
Salda welcomed the conduct of an independent investigation on the said issue to once and for all put a closure to the long standing controversy that trace back to the early 1990s when the chicken dung trade was declared a nuisance that was upheld by the Court of Appeals.
He added that the local government already filed various charges against those who continue to defy the implementation of the closure order against their illegal chicken dung trade in the locality for them to be properly prosecuted by the courts while efforts are being done to iron out the issues that have cropped up on the said lucrative trade.
Banner Photo by: Photo by: Redjie Melvic Cawis