P728M FERTILIZER SCAM

Dimaporo arrested by NBI in hospital

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The Sandiganbayan, together with the National Bureau of Investigation, served the arrest warrant Monday on Lanao del Norte Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo in his suite at Cardinal Santos Medical Center in Greenhills, San Juan City, in connection with the P728-million fertilizer scam in 2004.

Judicial Officer Romulo Barrozo oversaw the arrest order served at 11 a.m. after which Dimaporo’s fingerprints were taken, his personal details recorded and his mug shots taken.

A court source said the group agreed to allow Dimaporo to stay in the hospital under the watch of the NBI even though the antigraft court had ordered that no bail would be granted for the malversation charges against him for the alleged ghost delivery of fertilizers to a nongovernment organization (NGO) in 2004.

Dimaporo’s lawyers presented the Sandiganbayan officials with the doctor’s recommendation allowing him to remain under hospital care after suffering chest pains and acute myocardial infarction or a mild heart attack a few days ago.

They also argued that the case against Dimaporo was weak and did not justify the prohibition of bail.

Last week, Dimaporo was charged by the Ombudsman with malversation of public funds and graft for the purchase and delivery of 10,000 bags of Saka Organic fertilizers worth P5 million under the Farm Inputs and Farm Implement Program of the Department of Agriculture through the Lanao Foundation Inc. (LFI), an NGO formed by the lawmaker in 1994. The Ombudsman claimed that Dimaporo faked the delivery receipts for the fertilizer.

Dimaporo’s coaccused are former provincial agriculturist Isabelo Luna and private individuals Felizardo Dragon, Evangeline Ontiveros, Rosalinda Bisenio and Elmer Sayre.

The bogus fertilizer transaction is one of several projects that constituted the P728-million fertilizer fund scam orchestrated by then Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante in 2004 as part of an alleged plan to divert taxpayers’ money to the campaign kitty of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The prosecution has 10 days to comment on Dimaporo’s petition for hospital arrest. The defense will have another 10 days to respond to the prosecution.

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