The Office of the Ombudsman has found probable cause to file a complaint against former Camarines Norte governor Jesus Typoco before the Sandiganbayan for his alleged involvement in the fertilizer fund scam.
The case is on his alleged violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
In finding probable cause, the office said in its resolution that “Typoco cannot simply be exempted because he was then busy campaigning for the upcoming elections” adding that “as governor and public official, he is accountable for his actions relative to the contract he entered into.”
The office likewise found ground to charge seven others, including former provincial accountant Maribeth Malaluan; former Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) members Jose Atienza, Lorna Coreses, Cesar Paita, Rodolfo Salamero, Jose Rene Ruidera, and; Alex Rivera of Hexaphil Agri-ventures, Inc. for alleged violation of Section 3(e) of the anti-graft law and violation of 65.3(1) of RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
“[T]he acts of public respondents may appear independent but the same were in fact concerted and cooperative, indicating closeness of personal association, concerted action and concurrence of sentiments which would not have been consummated if not for the participation and concerted efforts of all public respondents,” Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales explained.
The Ombudsman said Camarines Norte province received P4 million for the purchase of agricultural supplies and P1 million for vegetable seeds in 2004.
“Sometime in March 2004, Rivera offered their product Hexaplus liquid fertilizer to Typoco claiming that the firm is an exclusive distributor of the product sold at P700 per bottle,” it said in a statement.
The Department of Agriculture regional office later executed a memorandum of agreement with Typoco on April 1, 2004 and on April 16, 2003, Typoco and the BAC awarded the purchase of 7,142 bottles of fertilizer to Hexaphil allegedly without public bidding.
The Ombudsman said that it found out that Hexaphil was allegedly not a legitimate company because it had no business permit or license to operate, and was not registered with the Department of Trade and Industry, Securities and Exchange Commission or the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Also, Hexaphil “cannot be located in the declared busi- ness address.”
The office further noted that the “respondents did not exercise diligence in the conduct of its market probe prior to the award of contract,” and that there was alleged reference to brand names which is prohibited under RA 9184 as well as “questionable resort to direct contracting.”
The respondents can still file a motion for reconsideration on the matter.