File graft raps vs ex-Leyte Gov, 5 others in P2.3M fertilizer deal – Ombudsman
The Office of the Ombudsman has found probable cause to file graft charges against former Southern Leyte Gov. Rosette Lerias and five Provincial Government Bids and Award Committee (PGBAC) members over a questionable fertilizer deal worth over P2 million.
According to the Office of the Omnudsman, Lerias as well as PGBAC members Virginia Cruz, Catalino Olayvar, Teopisto Rojas, Jr., Fernando Moralde. and Joseph Duarte violated Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
It also said that charges of falsification of public documents were likewise ordered to be filed against the five PGBAC members.
Based on the Ombudsman’s press release issued on Thursday, the charges to be filed against the respondents stemmed from their approval of the P5-million budget that was used to purchase fertilizers for the revival of the province’s rice program in 2006.
The PGBAC gave the contract to Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Corporation (PhilPhos) for the fertilizer deal. Later, the Ombdusman said, a check worth P2,313,545.00 was issued and received by Duarte as cash advance for 2,514 bags of fertilizers to be distributed in the municipalities of Libagon, St. Bernard, San Juan, Arahawan, Hinundayan, Hinunangan, San Francisco, and Pintuyan.
“(But) upon scrutiny, the Office of the Provincial Accountant certified that ‘there is no record of an existing memorandum of agreement between the province and PhilPhos’,” the Ombudsman said.
“Hence, by signing the PGBAC Resolution, respondents PGBAC members together with respondent Governor Lerias who approved the same, violated Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019,” it added.
Lerias’ plea to dismiss the case due to alleged inordinate delay was also junked by the anti-graft body.
The Resolution stated that “the Office does not subscribe to the plea of dismissal based on inordinate delay. Unless preventive suspension is ordered, the investigation or fact-finding does not disturb, interrupt or vex the would-be respondent, such that he may cry foul and claim inordinate delay in the case build-up.”
“Furthermore, fact-finding is a separate proceeding prior to the filing of a formal complaint, which means that there are yet no charges filed against anyone. The persons under investigation are not yet respondents who could be prejudiced by the delay. Notably, the complaint was filed only on 14 March 2016, and the office had since acted upon every incident promptly, negating inordinate delay,” it added. /kga
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