Fertilizer fund scam: Ex-solon Mitra indicted
THE OMBUDSMAN filed on Tuesday two criminal cases against Games and Amusement Board (GAB) chair Abraham Kahlil Mitra for the alleged misuse of P3 million in fertilizer funds when he was the representative of Palawan’s second district in 2004.
Charges of graft and malversation were also filed against five regional officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) over an alleged conspiracy with GabayMasa Development Foundation Inc., to misuse funds earmarked to help poor farmers.
According to the Ombudsman, Mitra and the regional DA officials gave unwarranted benefits to GabayMasa and caused undue injury to the government.
Lack of qualifications
It noted that GabayMasa was selected and accredited to implement the P3-million project, despite its lack of qualifications and track record as required by Commission on Audit.
It said the public officials abused their positions by allowing GabayMasa to “embezzle and take the public funds under their charge and custody.”
According to the Ombudsman, Mitra and his corespondents had hurriedly approved the release of 65 percent of the total funds, or P1.95 million, on April 24, 2004, in violation of a memorandum of agreement that allowed only 20 percent of the funds to be transferred upon its approval.
Likewise, they hastily approved the release of another P1.05 million on Dec. 29, 2004, even though GabayMasa failed to submit the reportorial requirements.
Officials facing trial
The DA (Regional Field Office IV) officials facing trial with Mitra were: executive director Dennis Araullo, regional technical directors Gregorio Sangalang and Balagtas Torres, legislative coordinator Lucille Odejar and regional accountant Raymundo Enriquez Braganza.
Respondents also include the officers of GabayMasa: Margie Tajon Luz, Concha Inay Indica, Ma. Cristina Jimeno Vizcarra, Caridad Tajon, Melencio Punzalan and Rodolfo Luz.
Mitra served as district representative for three consecutive terms from 2001 to 2010. He then became governor for a three-year term marred by controversies and an aborted bid for a recall election. On July 15, President Duterte appointed him the chair of GAB.
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