Chavez files new plunder case vs. ex-President Arroyo

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MANILA, Philippines—Former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez on Tuesday filed another plunder case against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the Department of Justice for her alleged use of P1.6 billion worth of fertilizer funds to finance her 2004 presidential campaign.

Chavez said the amount was deparate from the P728-million fertilizer fund scam exposed by Sen. Panfilo Lacson two months before the May 2004 national elections.

“(I) have filed this complaint so that she (Arroyo) has to account to the people for (almost P1.6 billion) of fertilizer funds that were clearly used for her political exercises in 2004,” Chavez told reporters before lodging the complaint.

Aside from Arroyo, also named respondents were former Agriculture Secretary Luis Ramon Lorenzo Jr., former Agriculture Secretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante, Ibarra Poliquit, Jamie Paule, Mario Relampagos, Nora Oliveros, Rose Lingan-Florendo, Leni Aquino and Jane Fabian.

Bolante, a close friend of Arroyo’s husband Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, was identified in previous Senate hearings as the architect of the fertilizer fund scam.

Attached to his 31-page complaint were some 200 pages of documents, including the special allotment release order signed by Arroyo directing then Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin to release the funds.

Also included in the complaint as evidence were the reports of the Senate committee which investigated the P728-million fertilizer fund scam.

Chavez said he actually filed the same case before the Office of the Ombudsman in 2004, but then Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo did not act on the complaint.

He said he filed a motion seeking to withdraw his original complaint at the anti-graft body last week.

The complaint was the second plunder case that Chavez filed against Arroyo. It was also the third plunder charge brought against the former president at the DOJ.

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