Another plunder case filed vs Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Lawyer Frank Chavez on Tuesday filed another plunder case at the justice department against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for allegedly using nearly P1.6 billion in fertilizer funds to bolster her presidential bid in 2004.
Chavez, a former solicitor general, blasted the now Pampanga representative for claiming that corruption had worsened under the Aquino administration.
“Now is the time for her to realize that she cannot pontificate on good governance,” Chavez told reporters before submitting his complaint-affidavit to State Prosecutor Monica Liwag.
“She should not have the temerity to do that because… the trail she left behind is a trail of unmitigated corruption, pillage and plunder. That’s the only legacy that she will always be remembered [for],” he said.
Separate fertilizer scam
In his complaint, Chavez accused Arroyo, former Agriculture Secretary Luis Ramon Lorenzo Jr., former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante and seven others of facilitating the release of P1.59 billion to congressmen, governors and mayors nationwide “for [Arroyo’s] political exercises in 2004.
He said the amount was not part of the P728-million so-called “fertilizer fund scam,” in which funds for fertilizer and other agriculture inputs were allegedly used to promote the presidential campaign of Arroyo in the May 2004 elections.
Citing the documents he presented as evidence, Chavez said the money was intended for the purchase of farm inputs to be distributed to poor farmers.
Not a drop
“But not a single drop of fertilizer reached the farmers,” he claimed.
Apart from Arroyo, Lorenzo and Bolante, other respondents were Agriculture Assistant Secretary Ibarra Poliquit, Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and Budget Director Nora Oliveros.
Also charged were Jaime Paule, Rose Lingan-Florendo, Leni Aquino and Jane Fabian, previously identified as “runners” in the alleged diversion of the funds.
Bolante, who fled the country before the Senate started its public inquiry into the issue in 2005, was the supposed architect of the scam. He is a known associate of Arroyo’s husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo.
Chavez said the funds covered by his complaint were released on Feb. 10, 2004, the day before the ban on the distribution of public funds during the election period was to take effect and a week after the P728 million was given to Bolante’s office.
Signed by Arroyo
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.
“This is a story of how our country’s leaders have schemingly [sic] and systematically earmarked billions in public funds… which were shamelessly utilized to fund selfish political ambitions,” he said in his affidavit.
“This story, like other stories of graft and corruption in government, fell on the predictably deaf ears” of resigned Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and her immediate predecessor, former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo, Chavez said.
Also included as evidence were the copies of the Senate committee reports on the alleged fertilizer fund diversion in 2006 and 2009.
Chavez said he actually filed the same case before the Office of the Ombudsman in 2004, but then Marcelo did not act on the complaint.
He said he filed a motion seeking to withdraw his original complaint at the antigraft body last week so he could file a new complaint with the DoJ.
“I am hopeful that after the DoJ shall have found probable cause, then it will endorse this to a new Ombudsman and all of us can hope for change,” he said.