Ombudsman to pursue plunder case vs agriculture chief Lorenzo, Bolante et al
MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman will push through with the filing of a plunder case against former Agriculture Secretary Luis Ramon “Cito” P. Lorenzo, undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante, Assistant Secretary Ibarra T. Poliquit, and other high ranking officials of the Department of Agriculture over the P728 million fertilizer fund scam before the Sandiganbayan.
Acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro dismissed the motion for reconsideration filed by these officials, noting that they failed to raise new evidence that would warrant a reversal of the findings of probable cause against them.
Aside from Lorenzo and Bolante also facing plunder charges are Quezon City Representative Nanette Daza, former Assistant Secretary Ibarra Poliquit, all of the Department of Agriculture; and private respondents Jaime Eonzon Paule, Marilyn Araos, Joselito Flordeliza, Marites Aytona, Jose Barredo and Leonicia Marco-Llarena.
The motions for reconsideration filed by former Congresswoman Nanette Castelo-Daza, former Marinduque Governor Carmencita Reyes and former Governor Leandro B. Verceles, Jr. were likewise denied. Charges for violation of Ra 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) were ordered filed against them.
Malversation charges were filed against DA Regional Directors Cesar D. Rodriguez, Dennis B. Araullo, Ricardo D. Oblena, Leo P. Caneda, Oscar O. Parawan, Roger C. Chio, Sumail K. Sekak and Eduardo B. Lecciones, Jr.
Acting Ombudsman Casimiro also ordered the dismissal from the service of Poliquit, Oblena, Araullo, Caneda, Parawan, Rodolfo M. Guieb, Balagtas K. Torres, Abelardo Bragas, Felix Ramos, Ofelia Montilla and Gregorio Sangalang, all of the DA; and Rodolfo G. Malinana, Ireneo C. Del Rosario, Roger M. Pitajen, and Herbert DLS Evangelista, Sr., all local officials of the Provincial Government of Catanduanes.
Investigation revealed that Bolante and Paule met and allegedly planned the grand scheme.
The Ombudsman said the government was double-crossed in the total amount of and estimated amount of P56.6M. The amount of P27M released to them was used to buy fertilizers, but it would appear that there was no distribution that was made to the farmers, instead, the same were resold to the LGUs at a higher markup.
It said that “respondent Aytona, employee of respondent Paule, activated, maneuvered the operations of National Organization for Agricultural Enhancement and Productivity, Inc. (NOAEPI) and controlled its bank account.”
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