2 ex-governors, 2 ex-mayors charged over fertilizer fund scam
Two former governors and two former mayors were the latest to be charged with graft in connection with the P728-million fertilizer fund scam in 2004.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered former Masbate governor Antonio Kho, former Rizal governor Casimiro Ynares Jr., former Butuan City mayor Leonides Theresa Plaza and former Buenavista, Agusan del Norte mayor Percianita Racho charged with graft and violation of procurement rules for the overpriced fertilizers.
Morales also ordered dismissed for grave misconduct and dishonesty 11 officials who consequently lost their retirement benefits and disqualified from again working in government.
Four private suppliers will also be charged with graft.
Several officials were earlier implicated in the scam when funds purportedly for farm inputs and implements were released to local officials shortly before the May 2004 presidential elections when then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo won a second term.
The Masbate provincial government reportedly received P5 million from the Department of Agriculture in April 2004 and former governor Kho approved the purchase of liquid fertilizers from Hexaphil at P700 per bottle worth P5 million.
Ombudsman investigators faulted Kho for directly contracting a firm that was found to have expired business permits.
The Rizal provincial government also received P5 million in April 2004 under the DA’s Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) program and former governor Ynares approved the purchase of 2,455 bottles of liquid fertilizer at P1,500 each from Feshan Philippines Inc. which was found to have an expired license.
The Ombudsman said the P3.8 million worth of fertilizers were overpriced by P3.2 million since the fertilizer only cost P160 to P170 per bottle.
The Butuan city government also received P5 million in April 2004 and former mayor Plaza approved the purchase of P5 million worth of liquid organic fertilizer from Feshan at P1,500 per bottle.
The Ombudsman faulted Plaza for partiality, bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence for favoring a specific brand and excluded other suppliers.
The municipal government of Buenavista, Agusan del Norte, meanwhile, received P3 million in March and May 2004 and former mayor Racho reportedly approved the purchase of 2,000 bottles of Bio-Nature organic liquid fertilizer from Feshan at P1,500 per bottle worth P3 million without the municipal council’s approval.
The Commission on Audit found that the purchase was overpriced by as much as P2.75 million since each bottle only cost P125.
Last April, the Ombudsman also ordered Racho charged with graft for the anomalous procurement of fire hydrants in 2004.
The 11 officials whom the Ombudsman ordered dismissed were former Masbate provincial administrator Roger Rapsing who headed the bids and awards committee; Rizal provincial agriculturist Danilo Rumbawa and other bids and awards committee members Romulo Arcilla, Eugene Durusan, Victorina Olea Eduardo Torres, Danilo Collantes and Virgilio Esguerra;
Butuan city agriculturist Salvador Satorre, city treasurer Adulfo Llagas, assistant city treasurer Arthur Castro, general services officer Rodolfo Evanoso, accountant Bebiano Calo, city budget officer Danilo Furia and supply officer Melita Loida Galbo.
The suppliers who will be charged were Hexaphil president Alex Rivera, Area Agriventures Inc. manager Victoria Ajero and Feshan Philippines Inc. representatives Lucio Lapidez and Mallyne Araos.
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