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Ex-DA execs to face trial

/ 06:18 AM August 19, 2018

The antigraft court Sandiganbayan has ordered two former Cabinet officials of the Arroyo administration to face trial for P46 million in fertilizer deals that they entered into in 2003.

In an order dated Aug. 9, the Sandiganbayan’s Sixth Division dismissed the appeal of former Agriculture Secretary Luis Ramon Lorenzo Jr. and former National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Arthur Yap to drop the Ombudsman’s charges against them.

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The court denied the motions filed by Lorenzo, Yap and their coaccused, Tomas Guibani, a representative of the Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Corp. (PhilPhos) for “lack of merit.”

The two former Arroyo Cabinet men and their coaccused were charged with five counts of corruption for allegedly manipulating the purchase of 92,158 bags of fertilizer to favor PhilPhos.

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Unwarranted benefit

The Ombudsman said Lorenzo and Yap gave “unwarranted benefits” to PhilPhos by ordering the bids and awards committees of five regions in Luzon to purchase fertilizers through negotiated purchase, instead of competitive bidding.

Prosecutors also questioned why the accused, as agriculture officials, ordered the committees to open the bids for fertilizer purchases for the five regions at the NFA central office in Quezon City.

The two former agriculture officials also amended the guidelines supposedly to favor only PhilPhos.

Lorenzo, Yap and Guibani each sought the dismissal of the charges, claiming the allegations contained in the charges lodged by the Ombudsman were insufficient to constitute a crime.

Inordinate delay

They also alleged that the “inordinate delay” supposedly incurred by the Ombudsman in filing the complaints violated their right to a speedy disposition of cases.

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In denying the accused’s plea, Associate Sandiganbayan Justice Kevin Narce Vivero declared that the prosecution’s allegations against the three were sufficient to indict them for violation of the antigraft law.

“An information needs only to state the ultimate facts constituting the offense, not the finer details of why and how the illegal acts amounted to undue injury or damage — matters that are appropriate for trial,” Vivero said.

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TAGS: Arthur Yap, Department of Agriculture, Fertilizer Scam, Kevin Narce, Luis Ramon Lorenzo Jr., Sandiganbayan, Tomas Guibani
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