Ex-Camarines Norte gov indicted over fertilizer fund scam
Former Camarines Norte Governor Jesus Typoco was indicted for graft over his alleged involvement in the fertilizer fund scam.
In a statement on Monday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has found probable cause to charge Typoco for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Also indicted were Provincial Accountant Maribeth Malaluan, Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) members, namely: Jose Atienza, Lorna Coreses, Cesar Paita, Rodolfo Salamero, Jose Rene Ruidera, and Alex Rivera of Hexaphil Agriventures, Inc. (Hexaphil) for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 and violation of 65.3(1) of Republic Act No. 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act).
According to the Ombudsman, Typoco on April 16, 2004 awarded the contract for the procurement of 7,142 bottles of fertilizer to Hexaphil without public bidding.
Rivera of Hexaphil offered the liquid fertilizer product to Typoco, calling the firm an exclusive distributor at P700 per bottle.
The Ombudsman investigators found that the procurement which resulted in direct contracting was anomalous.
Hexaphil was not a legitimate company without a business permit or license to operate, the Ombudsman said.
The Ombudsman added that the company is not registered with the Department of Trade and Industry, Securities and Exchange Commission or the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Hexaphil cannot also be located in its declared business address.
Any reference to a brand name is prohibited under the procurement law, the Ombudsman said.
Because Typoco resorted to direct contracting, the accused did not exercise due diligence in the conduct of its market probe before awarding the contract, the Ombudsman said.
Morales said she found no merit in Typoco’s explanation that he should not be held liable because he was then busy campaigning for the elections.
“Typoco cannot simply be exempted because he was then busy campaigning for the upcoming elections… (As) governor and public official, he is accountable for his actions relative to the contract he entered into,” Morales said in the resolution.
The Ombudsman further explained that “the acts of public respondents may appear independent but the same were in fact concerted and cooperative, indicating closeness of personal association, concerted action and concurrence of sentiments which would not have been consummated if not for the participation and concerted efforts of all public respondents.”
Under the Government Procurement Reform Act, Section 65.3(1) prohibits the submission of eligibility requirements containing false information or falsified documents calculated to influence the outcome of the eligibility screening process or when the concealment of information will result into ineligibility.
Meanwhile, Section 3(e) of the antigraft law prohibits public officials from causing any undue injury to any party, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.
Typoco’s funds for liquid fertilizers were sourced from the P728-million “Ginintuang Masaganang Ani Program” of the Department of Agriculture under the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo meant to provide poor farmers with fertilizer, irrigation, seeds, education and training, loans, as well as dryers and post-harvest facilities.
The P728-million fertilizer funds were said to have been diverted to Arroyo’s campaign kitty to pay off favored local officials. The funds were released three months before the 2004 elections. Arroyo was cleared by the Ombudsman over the alleged scam. IDL
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