(UPDATE) THE new chief of the Department of Agriculture's Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) on Monday said he has uncovered irregularities in the purchase of P1.737 billion worth of 1,346 tractors under a DA farm mechanization program.

PHilMech Executive Director Dionisio Alvindia said he has informed the Department of Budget and Management about the acquisition.

PhilMech chief Dionisio Alvindia. Contributed photo
PhilMech chief Dionisio Alvindia. Contributed photo

Alvindia said he has also sought the legal opinions of the DA and the Commission on Audit (CoA).

The tractors were purchased for P1.298 million each under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF)-Mechanization Program funding for 2021.

Get the latest news
delivered to your inbox
Sign up for The Manila Times’ daily newsletters
By signing up with an email address, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Alvindia said he found out that the actual price of one tractor was P1.2 million.

"Because of the agency's findings, PHilMech will not pay the contractors," he said.

Alvindia gave assurances that the discovery of the anomaly will not affect the distribution of farm equipment under the mechanization program.

He said the various programs of the agency will also proceed, including the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan.

The PHilMech has also launched the Agricultural Machinery Design and Prototyping Center in its headquarters in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, in collaboration with the Korea International Cooperation Agency, Korea Institute for Development Strategy and Korea Agricultural Machinery Cooperative, he said.

"We also assure that PHilMech will continue to be at the forefront of developing and commercializing farm technologies that will significantly help farmers and the disadvantaged groups in the country's agriculture sector to cope with the challenges of globalized markets and climate change, among others," he said.