• Ex-Marinduque lawmaker, 7 others face fertilizer case

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    The Office of the Ombudsman filed charges of graft and malversation through falsification before the Sandiganbayan against former Marinduque Rep. Edmundo Reyes Jr. and several others in connection with the alleged anomalous transfer of P5 million fertilizer funds to a non-governmental organization (NGO) in 2004.

    Also named respondents were former Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Unit IV Executive Director Dennis Araullo, former Accountant Raymundo Braganza, former Technical Directors Balagtas Torres and Rodolfo Guieb, former Legislative Coordinator Lucille Odejar and then-cashier Dory Iranzo.

    Margie Tajon Luz, who was identified in the charge sheet as former president and chairman of Gabaymasa Development Foundation Inc., was also charged.

    In filing the graft case, Assistant Special Prosecutor I Maria Rizza Ferrer-Mendoza alleged that the respondents “g[a]ve unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to Gabaymasa and cause[d]undue injury to the government in the amount of Five Million Pesos…”

    Gabaymasa was allegedly selected and accredited, in a memorandum of agreement (MOA) dated March 10, 2004, as the collaborating NGO to implement the DA’s Farm Inputs and Farm Implements Program (FIFIP) “despite its lack of qualifications” under Commission on Audit (COA) Circular No. 96-003.

    Further, the charge sheet alleged that 65 percent or P3.25 million of the P5 million was “immediately” approved and transferred to Gabaymasa on May 4, 2004 “when what was agreed upon in the MOA was a transfer of only 20% of the P5 Million fertilizer fund upon its approval/signing,” and that the final release of payment in the amount of P1.75 million was “immediately” approved and transferred “in favor of Gabaymasa in violation of the agreed tranches in the MOA and despite the latter’s failure to submit and comply with the required reportorial requirements and/or conditions as specified in the MOA.”

    In the case for malversation through falsification of public document, it said disbursement vouchers numbers 2004-5-1525 and 2004-12-7399 were allegedly falsified, “making it appear that Gabaymasa was a qualified non-government organization” to implement the DA’s FIFIP “and that it submitted all documents necessary for its accreditation as project implementer, when in truth and in fact, the accused fully well knew that said corporation was not qualified to be accredited as project implementer, and that it did not submit the complete documents required for its accreditation” under COA Circular No. 96-003.

    The Ombudsman recommended P630,000 bail for the respondents’ provisional liberty.

    Meanwhile, the Sandiganbayan’s First Division has dismissed the graft case against Cebu City second district Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa finding no merit on the facts as charged that stemmed from the passage of a resolution when he was Cebu City councilor in 2011.

    The Office of the Ombudsman alleged that Abellanosa became interested in or had material interest in the passage of the resolution which authorized the former mayor to forge an agreement with Asian College of Technology International Educational Foundation, of which Abellanosa was trustee-president, for the city’s scholarship program.

    But in a 10-page resolution, the anti-graft court agreed with Abellanosa that the resolution passed by the Sangguniang Panlungsod (city council) merely expressed a sentiment or opinion on Executive Order No. 10-124, which was issued by the then-mayor and which established the scholarship program.

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