Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Tobacco farmers eye raps vs. Singsons over unfinished convention center

Oct 9, 2018 @ 18:31

A group of tobacco farmers have threatened to file criminal charges against Ilocos Sur Governor Ryan Singson and his father, former governor Luis “Chavit” Singson, over the unfinished construction of the Farmer’s Convention Center (FCC) in Vigan.

The Federation of Tobacco Growers in Ilocos Sur made the threat as it lamented that the project costs around half a billion pesos and remain unfinished even though the contract was awarded back in 2008.

“The funds used in Farmers Convention Center should have been allocated to projects that will benefit us directly,” the group said in a statement.

“We are not well-schooled policy makers but we know that the funding of these projects are grossly anomalous,” it stressed.

The Federation explained the FCC construction is funded through the province’s share of the tobacco excise tax.

Citing Republic Acts 7171 and 8240, the Federation explained “15% of the incremental revenue collected from the excise tax on tobacco products shall be exclusively utilized for programs to increase the income and productivity of tobacco farmers and to involve them in post-harvest and secondary processing such as cigarette manufacturing.”

The group stressed the importance of the funds to tobacco farmers since the government wanted them to shift to other equally or far more economically empowering agricultural produce considering the health perils of tobacco.

“But how can we expect government support if funds intended to assist us are funneled to a still unfinished project which was initiated in 2007 by then Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson and his son, Ryan?” asked the Federation.

Meanwhile, the group appealed to the governor to compel the contractors to finish the project or be penalized for the delay.

It also asked President Rodrigo Duterte, Congress, and the Commission on Audit (COA) to look into the validity of the project.

Apart from this, the Federation also sought for to have the Singsons undergo lifestyle checks and have their statements of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN) examined.

-30-

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