WHAT WENT BEFORE: Fertilizer scam

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In March 2004, presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson exposed the alleged diversion of P728 million in fertilizer funds to help the 2004 presidential campaign of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Lacson accused Arroyo of “virtual vote-buying” by authorizing the release of funds to favored officials to buy farm inputs like fertilizer and pesticide for their constituents.

Following Lacon’s accusations, lawyer Frank Chavez filed a plunder case against Arroyo. Chavez named Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante as one of those who signed the papers for the release and disposition of the funds.

In October 2005, the Senate called for an inquiry, with Bolante—who resigned from his post in September 2004—as the main witness.

In his testimony in the Senate, Bolante cleared Arroyo of liability, saying the “implementation of the P728-million farm input-farm implement program was approved by [the budget department] without the President’s approval.”

In October 2008, a special panel from the Office of the Ombudsman was convened to conduct preliminary investigation into the case.

In February 2009, the Senate blue ribbon committee concluded its investigation of the scam and recommended the prosecution of its alleged mastermind, Bolante, and nine others.

In July 2010, the Office of the Ombudsman announced the results of its investigation and recommended that Bolante and former Agriculture Secretary Luis “Cito” Lorenzo be indicted for graft and malversation along with 22 others.

In June 2011, Acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro ordered the filing of charges against Bolante, Lorenzo and formerAgriculture Assistant Secretary Ibarra Poliquit for their alleged involvement in the said scam. Inquirer Research

Source: Inquirer Archives

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