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Cam Norte ex-mayor charged by Ombudsman for fertilizer fund scam

The Office of the Ombudsman has filed Informations with the Sandiganbayan against local executives of Talisay, Camarines Norte, namely: former mayor Rodolfo Gache, Cecilio Noora, Jr., Mirian Hernandez, Ireneo Zabala, Romeo Maranan, Felicisima Velasco, Raul Rayos and Adela Adlawan, for two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019) and Malversation of Public Funds for their involvement in the fertilizer fund scam. Impleaded are Hexaphil Agriventures President Alex Rivera and Victoria Ajero.

Records show that in 2004, the municipality of Talisay received close to three million pesos as beneficiary of the Farm Inputs and Farm Implements Program (FIFIP) of the Department of Agriculture.  In implementing the project, Gache, procured 4,285 bottles of Hexaplus liquid fertilizer at P700/bottle from Hexaphil.

Investigation, however, discovered that no public bidding was conducted by local officials; documents for the release of funds were prepared in just one day; reference was made to specific brand names; fertilizers were overpriced as a market probe for the same brand shows the cost at only P130 to P420 per bottle; and supplier was ineligible to participate in the procurement.

In a 12-page Order, the Ombudsman affirmed the findings that the respondents manipulated the procurement process and that through abandonment or negligence, they permitted Hexaphil to take the amounts of the P1,914,545.46 and P1,039,959.10 in the guise of lawful disbursements.

“Respondent public officers committed the prohibited acts while in the performance of their duties, and with manifest partiality, and gross inexcusable negligence gave Hexaphil unwarranted benefit advantage or preference when they dispensed with public bidding,” she stated.


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