The Office of the Ombudsman has found ground to file charges at the Sandiganbayan against two former provincial heads as well as several local officials of Rizal, Masbate, Butuan City, and Buenavista municipality in Agusan del Norte for their alleged involvement in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam in 2004.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the filing of charges against former Governor Antonio Kho of Masbate and former Governor Casimiro Ynares Jr. of Rizal, former Mayor Leonides Theresa Plaza of Butuan City, and former Mayor Percianita Racho of Buenavista in Agusan del Norte.
Also to be charged are former Masbate Provincial Administrator/Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) chairman Roger Rapsing, President Alex Rivera of Hexaphil, and Area Agriventures Inc. Manager and Collector Victoria Ajero.
The case stemmed from the unlawful disbursement of funds that formed part of the P728 million fertilizer fund allocated for the implementation of the Farm Inputs and Farm Implements Program (FIFIP) of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
The provincial government of Masbate, represented by Kho, approved two purchase requests for 7,143 bottles of Hexaplus liquid fertilizers worth P5 million.
But the Ombudsman found “several irregularities in the procurement.”
Ynares and other Rizal officials were also accused of purchasing P3.6 million worth of fertilizer that the Ombudsman found were overpriced.
Plaza, meanwhile, was accused of favoring one supplier of liquid fertilizer. The Ombudsman claimed that the merchandise was paid for before the contract was awarded.