Ombudsman prosecutors indicted four Department of Agriculture (DA) Caraga regional officials at the Sandiganbayan in connection with the fertilizer fund scam.
The case arose from the DA regional field office’s May 2004 award of the contract to Philippine Social Development Foundation, Inc.(PSDFI) for the procurement of fertilizers worth P5 million.
PSDFI is one of the bogus nongovernment organizations allegedly put by accused pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
Indicted were DA Assistant Regional Director Edgardo Dahino, Chief Administrative Officer Jessica Da-an, Administrative Officer Merylinda Santos, and Accountant III Gerry Leop.
Included in the charges were Napoles, Evelyn De Leon and Rodel Pontillas, both from the PSDFI.
The Ombudsman found them liable for malversation of public funds and violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
In a resolution dated July 11, the Office of the Ombudsman said the DA Regional Field Unit XIII entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the municipality of Del Carmen, Surigao del Norte and the PSDFI for the procurement of fertilizers under the government’s Agricultural Reinforcement Project in May 2004 .
Based on an investigation, the Ombudsman said the DA officials released the entire fund to PSDFI as the project implementer without complying with a Commission on Audit (COA) circular requiring funds to be released in three tranches.
According to the resolution, the project, had no appropriation as the cited source of funding, Republic Act (RA) No. 9162 or the General Appropriations Act of 2002, was effective only until December 2003.
Also, records show that no fertilizers were distributed in the municipality based on certifications issued by the municipal agriculturist.
“Napoles was indicted for conspiring with public respondents for ordering the reactivation of the PSDFI and entering into the transaction with the DA RFU Caraga and the municipality using PSDFI as conduit for the project,” the resolution read.
“By allowing the issuance of fake official receipts to make it appear that the PSDFI received the public funds; by issuing a report of disbursement using her employee, respondent de Leon, to make it appear that the PSDFI used the P5 million in the acquisition of fertilizers, and by purchasing fake liquid fertilizers for P100 per 300ml/bottle and selling them to DA RFU Caraga atP800 per 300ml/bottle,” the resolution stated. By CLC Photo courtesy of Alex Mapoy