KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato: An agrarian reform officer from this province surrendered a cash gift to her superior after the agency’s clients refused the former’s repeated attempts to return the money.
Municipal Agrarian Reform Program Officer Ofelia Fuentes displayed her commitment to the agency’s rule against accepting gifts or favors when she forwarded the P10,000.00 she received to the provincial office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
“In spite of my strong and polite refusal to accept the money, they still insisted to give it, telling me that it is just a token of gratitude to the efficient and effective services extended to them by the DAR Municipal Office (DARMO) staff of Koronadal I,” said Fuentes.
The service provided by the municipal office is the prompt issuance of land titles to the heirs of a late farmer-beneficiary, as per court order. Accompanying Fuentes when the said clients handed the cash were Senior Agrarian Reform Program Technologist Esther De Guzman, Agrarian Reform Program Technologists Reydann Delmo and Allan Nasser Dima.
OIC-Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer II Evangeline Bueno said the cash gift is in the safe keeping of the provincial office.
“This is the first time (that an incident like this) happened in our office. We reported it immediately to the (DAR Central Office) for their advice and instructions. This is also in strict observance of transparency and good governance,” Bueno said.
Director Alexander Alimuddin Ali, head of the Internal Audit Division and the DAR Anti-Corruption Task Force, said the money would be returned to the clients for the best interest of the agency as the act is clearly prohibited in existing laws and administrative issuances.
Under Memorandum Circular No. 07, Series of 2010, solicitation, receiving or accepting gifts and benefits constitute as corrupt practices and prohibited acts and transactions.
“The exemplary performance shown by DARMO Koronadal I is highly commendable. Such an act is incommensurate to any material reward, regardless of the amount,” Ali said.
“At a time that our agency is hounded by corruption accusations, this act is uplifting and inspiring to all of us in the DAR,” Ali added.
Just recently, the DAR created an anti-corruption task force in support of the initiatives of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to combat corruption in government.
Agrarian Reform Secretary John R. Castriciones directed the DAR Anti-Corruption Task Force to conduct thorough investigations into information received by the department and enjoined DAR employees to cooperate in this drive against corruption.
Director Ali said the task force accepts and evaluates all complaints regardless of their sources, including anonymous and confidential ones.
(DAR-Public Assistance and Media Relations Service)