Ex-CamNorte gov charged with graft in P4M fertilizer fund scam
Former Camarines Norte Governor Jesus Typoco was formally charged before the Sandiganbayan with one count of graft for his alleged involvement in a P4-million fertilizer fund scam.
The Office of the Special Prosecutor under the Ombudsman filed one count of graft or violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against Typoco and seven others – provincial accountant Maribeth Malaluan, Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) members, Jose Atienza, Lorna Coreses, Cesar Paita, Rodolfo Salamero, Jose Rene Ruidera, and Alex Rivera, President of Hexaphil Agriventures, Inc. (Hexaphil)
According to the graft charge, the respondents stand accused of graft for causing undue injury to government in the purchase of P4 million worth of fertilizers from Hexaphil in 2004.
Prosecutors accused the respondents of conspiring with one another and acting with bad faith, evident partiality and gross inexcusable negligence when they gave unwarranted benefits to Hexaphil without the benefit of a public bidding.
The respondents also made a specific reference to the brand Hexaplus in the purchase request and resorted to exclusive or sole distributorship without any valid justification.
The respondents also did not validate the documents that established Hexaplus as an exclusive distributor, and failed to ascertain the legitimacy of the corporate existence of Hexaplus.
Prosecutors said these were all violations of the Government Procurement Reform Act and caused undue injury to government, “depriving the province of Camarines Norte the opportunity to avail of a better price and quality of liquid fertilizers in the market.”
The prosecutors recommended a bail amount of P30,000 for one count.
In its indictment, the Ombudsman said Typoco in 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.
Under Section 3(e), 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 for the alleged scam.
The Sandiganbayan earlier convicted Typoco of falsification of public documents in connection with the 2005 procurement of medical supplies worth P1.645 million for the provincial hospital. IDL/rga
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