Ex-agriculture chief in fertilizer scam case wants case resolved soon
MANILA, Philippines — Former Agriculture Secretary Luis Lorenzo wants the decision on his plunder case related to the alleged misuse of fertilizer funds during the 2004 election season to be known soon.
Lorenzo has asked the Sandiganbayan Second Division to quickly resolve his pending motion to dismiss his case for lack of preliminary investigation or to determine probable cause in the case.
Lorenzo noted that he filed his motion in July 2011, and the subsequent hearings and submission of related pleadings were completed as of September 2011.
“Thus, Lorenzo’s Omnibus Motion has been ripe for resolution for more than nine months now,” he said in his motion filed by his lawyers.
“Based on the foregoing, and considering the gravity of the matter and the urgency of the relief requested, accused Lorenzo respectfully requests for the speedy resolution of the Omnibus Motion,” he added.
Lorenzo was among those charged with plunder last year in connection with the P728 million fertilizer fund scam, wherein funds meant to buy farm implements were allegedly diverted to the allies of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to help her 2004 campaign in the presidential election.
In the motion he filed in July, the former agriculture secretary said the Office of the Ombudsman did not give him due process before hauling him to court for the non-bailable plunder case.
Aside from that, Lorenzo contended that there was no reason to charge him with plunder. He said it was his co-accused, former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante, who had handled the funds for the fertilizer and farm input program during the Arroyo administration.
He also said that his preliminary investigation at the Office of the Ombudsman was only for malversation and violation of the anti-graft law, and not for plunder.
By upgrading the charge against him to plunder without the proper preliminary investigation, he said the Office of the Ombudsman subjected him to “prosecutorial ambush.”
Aside from Lorenzo and Bolante, also charged with plunder in connection with the alleged fertilizer fund scam were former agriculture undersecretary Ibarra Poliquit, several other regional agriculture executives, and private fertilizer suppliers.
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