Graft charges are being readied against Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid and Pampanga officials for allowing the purchase of overpriced fertilizer.
The Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to indict Provincial Accountant Benjamin Yuzon, Provincial Treasurer Vergel Yabut for alleged violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft Law along with Malayan Pacific Trading Corporation (MPTC) incorporators Ma. Victoria Aquino-Abubakar and Leolita Aquino and D.A. Vazquez Macro-Micro Fertilizer Resources proprietor Dexter Alexan- der Vasquez.
“If the Provincial government of Pampanga undertook the pur–chase [of fertilizers]through public bidding, it could have purchased a fertilizer of equal or better quality than Macro-Micro Foliar Fertilizer at a lesser or competitive cost, thus allowing the Province of Pampanga to secure the best commercially available fertilizer product at the lowest price possible,” the Ombudsman said in its resolution, noting that “the Macro-Micro Foliar Fertilizer is 1000 percent higher than the other fertilizers of the same kind.”
It added that the manner and inordinate speed by which the transaction was consummated—a “mere” 12 days—manifested the partiality of Lapid, Yabut and Yuzon to D.A. Vazquez and MPTC.
Lapid was the governor of Pampanga at that time.
The Special Panel for the Fertilizer Fund Scam found that several violations of the procurement rules were committed by Lapid, Yuzon and Yabut when “they entered into a transaction that [was]grossly and manifestly disadvantageous . . . because the government paid P4,761,818.18 without ensuring that the government benefits from the best products/services available from the market at the best price.”
In a statement, the OMB said records showed that on March 18, 2004, the Sangguniang Panlala–wigan of Pampanga adopted Resolution No. 72 authorizing Lapid to enter, in behalf of the province, into an agreement with the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit III (DA RFU III) for the implementation of the Farm Input/Implement Fund/Program (FIFI) in line with the DA’s Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) Program.
Eleven days after, then Agri–culture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante issued a memorandum requesting the approval of Sub-Allotment Advise (SAA) for P5 million covered by Sub-Allotment Release Order (SARO) No. E-04-00164.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered Yabut and Yuzon dismissed from service.
She said the two officials were “tasked to enforce local taxation and fiscal matters within their local government unit, it is but expected for the Provincial Treasurer and Provincial Accountant to be abreast and knowledgeable to recent developments in fiscal adminis–tration, i.e. RA 9184 (Procurement Law) and its IRR-A, and to implement the same within their jurisdiction.”