• Ex-congressman, DA officials face graft raps

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    The Office of the Ombudsman has found probable cause to charge former Marinduque representative Edmundo Reyes and several former officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for possible involvement in the so-called fertilizer fund scam.

    ‚ÄčOmbudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved the filing of malversation and graft charges against Reyes and former DA Regional Executive Director Dennis Araullo, Regional Accountant Raymundo Braganza, Regional Technical Directors Balagtas Torres and Rodolfo Guieb, Legislative Coordinator Lucille Odejar and Cashier II Dory Iranzo, according to an Ombudsman resolution made public on Wednesday.

    The Ombudsman also included Margie Tajon Luz, president and chairman of the board of trustees of the non-government organization (NGO) Gabaymasa Foundation Inc.

    In a related administrative case, the Ombudsman ordered Araullo, Braganza, Torres, Guieb, Odejar and Iranzo dismissed after finding them guilty of serious dishonesty, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

    The province of Marinduque was one of the identified beneficiaries of the Farm Inputs and Farm Implements Program for which the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released P728 million in 2004.

    A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed between the DA Regional Field Unit IV (DA-RFU IV) represented by Araullo, Reyes (representing the lone district of Marinduque) and Luz of Gabaymasa for the procurement of P5 million worth of fertilizers with B.T. Mangrubang as supplier.

    The Ombudsman said the selection of Gabaymasa as project implementor violated a Commission on Audit (COA) circular requiring accreditation, verification and validation of NGOs.

    Gabaymasa is not based in the community where the project was implemented, its place of business being Quezon City.

    The NGO provided only financial statements for 2003, when the COA circular requires such statements covering the last three years to ensure that the NGO is financially stable.

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