A task force under the Office of the Ombudsman has filed graft, corrupt and malversation charges against 16 public and private officials in Negros Oriental on the controversial fertilizer fund scam during the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004.
The charges were filed against then governor and now Rep. George Arnaiz (Neg. Or., 2nd District), six Agriculture officials headed by the regional director Eduardo Lecciones Jr., former provincial General Services Officer Ismael Martinez, provincial agriculturist Greg Paltinca and Walter Lirazan, supply officer of DA in Region 7; provincial treasurer Danilo Mendez, and provincial accountant Teodorico Reyes.
Graft complaints were also filed against the incorporators and officers of Joebon Marketing, namely, Edward Uy, manager; James Sy, treasurer; incorporators Juanito Lee, Uy Ching Pay, Regina Espina Sy, Jose Anuling Dy and Bonifacio Anuling Dy; as well as Alex Amor Jr., proprietor of Siquijor Island Phosphate.
Task Force Abono was formed to conduct a probe on the fertilizer scam, and its findings showed that in Negros Oriental, violations were reportedly committed by the respondents on provisions of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; and on Section 65.2.4 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Act.
The task force, headed by Associate Graft Investigation Officer III Corinne Joie Garillo’s Field Investigation Office, found that upon validation of the receipt of fertilizers from the barangay chairmen of different towns of the province, “it was confirmed that some beneficiaries have not received the fertilizer, and that most of the transactions and purchases relative to the P5 million fertilizer’s fund were made through limited source or selective bidding and splitting of contracts.”
But Arnaiz said he has not pocketed even a single centavo of the controversial fertilizer fund.
He added that the graft charges against him and the others stemmed from the alleged non-publication of the projects to be funded by the money in support to the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act amounting to P5 million as required by law.
Arnaiz said there was no finding that the money went to their personal pockets, and that there was a record or proof of publication in a weekly newspaper.
“My conscience is clear, and whoever accuses us of wrongdoings will be affected in due time,” he added.
Arnaiz said he sensed politics behind the eagerness of at least two politicians from the province, whom Arnaiz referred to as the ones responsible for pushing the issue before the Ombudsman in Manila.*JG
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