DA forms ‘integrity circle’ to fight corruption
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has created an “integrity circle” to keep its management in check as President Duterte called for “transparency and integrity in all government interventions” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The team’s first order of business, according to Agriculture Secretary William Dar, is to look at the agency’s procurement processes.
“This is where irregularities usually happen,” he said. “But we will look into all operations to make our stakeholders feel that we should be free of corruption.”
Dubbed as Ading, or Agriculture Dialogue and Information Network Groups, the team would become the agency’s “eyes and ears” on the ground. It will be composed of representatives from the department and other concerned sectors so it could make impartial, objective and credible evaluation of the implementation of programs.
Agriculture Undersecretary Rodolfo Vicerra said the circle would involve farmers’ and fishers’ cooperatives and associations, rural youth and women, civil society, local government units, agribusiness industry, academe and designated DA officials.
“These people will all be linked to the top. They would be allowed to look at the agency’s records, minutes [of meetings] and reports. Within next week, we will begin with assembling the integrity circle and from there, we will start with putting Ading representation in all procurement operations,” he said.
While details have yet to be threshed out, Dar said they were banking on people’s “volunteerism” to keep the integrity circle going, although funding would be requested for logistics purposes.
Late last year, Dar admitted there had been DA employees that were allegedly involved in smuggling operations, especially at the height of the African swine fever spread.
He noted, however, that the Ading system would be more of a preventive measure than a corrective one.
Vicerra said that as much as they would like to look into past documents and investigate alleged cases of malfeasance, the integrity team’s primary focus would be to prevent corruption cases and instill an environment that would be intolerant of wrongdoing.
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