Syjuco charged over P5-million fertilizer scam
Former Iloilo 2nd Dist. Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr. has been charged again with graft in the Sandiganbayan, this time in connection with the alleged misuse of P5 million in the 2004 fertilizer fund scam.
This is the latest in the string of criminal charges filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against Syjuco, who later headed the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
The case concerned the allegedly irregular implementation of the Department of Agriculture’s Ginintuang Masaganang Ani program through a non-government organization instead of the Alimodian municipal government.
Prosecutors questioned the Sangguniang Bayan’s May 12, 2004 resolution allowing late Mayor Bernardo Ambut to enter into the agreement with Tawo Kag Duta sa Kauswagan Cooperative for the purchase of farm inputs and equipment.
The municipality also executed an undated memorandum of agreement designating the cooperative as the “implementing non-government organization” for its GMA program.
Prosecutors said the DA was not informed of this deviation from the April 30, 2004 agreement that designated the Alimodian government as the implementing agency for the agricultural project.
The cooperative also did not go through the accreditation process as required by Commission on Audit Circular No. 96-003.
The Ombudsman found the municipality’s transfer of its functions to the cooperative to have violated the Government Procurement Reform Act “to the detriment of public interest.”
Syjuco’s participation in the alleged scheme was not specifically detailed in the case information, although he was accused of “conspiring” with nine other public officials to “willfully, unlawfully, and criminally give unwarranted benefits” to the cooperative.
The other indicted public officials were former Alimodian vice-mayor Ramon Anino and municipal councilors Ireneo Mondero, Emmanuel Adricula, Aquiles Cabaluna Jr., Miguel Ambong, Geefre Alonsabe, Job Almacen and Roy Almonares, as well as municipal agriculturist Roberto Alcudia.
Also charged were the cooperative’s executive director Timoteo Tomas Salvilla, as well as representatives Edgardo Comoda and Corazon Taladua.
Prosecutors set the bail at P30,000. The case was raffled off to the antigraft court’s First Division.
Syjuco’s other Sandiganbayan cases include the alleged overpricing of Tesda’s education materials by P61 million, the alleged anomalies in the award of P79.9 million in Tesda scholarships, and the alleged diversion of P4.3 million in pork barrel funds to an NGO that supposedly served as a conduit for his poultry business.
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