MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – The Office of the Ombudsman has formally filed with the Sandiganbayan the plunder charges against former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn "Joc-Joc" Bolante, former Agriculture Secretary Cito Lorenzo, former Assistant Agriculture Secretary Ibarra Poliquit in connection with the P728 million fertilizer fund scam.
The complaint also named Jaime Paule, Marilyn Araos, Joselito Flordeliza, Marites Aytona, Jose Barredo and Leonicia Marco-Llarena as private respondents.
Atty. Mary Rawnsle Lopez said the charges were filed after the Office of the Ombudsman junked the respondents’ motion for reconsideration.
"The arguments they raised were a rehash of what was already submitted to us. It was the respondents' signatures and actions that paved the way for the misuse of the fertilizer funds," Lopez said.
The camp of Bolante tried to prevent the filing of the case by filing a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court against acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro. However, this proved to be futile as the Ombudsman was able to file the case against them at the Sandiganbayan.
Sandiganbayan spokesperson Atty. Renato Bocar said Bolante's petition is already moot and academic.
"Mababalewala na ang pag-file nina Bolante sa Supreme Court dahil the Ombudsman has already filed the case against them. Posibleng i-dismiss na rin ng SC yan dahil wala na silang pwedeng pigilan pa dahil na-ifile na ang kaso," Bocar said.
He added that the case would be raffled on Friday.
“Within 10 days from the receipt of the division that would handle the case, there is a need to determine if there is probable cause or wala. Kung meron, that's the time that the court will issue a warrant of arrest, hold departure order and a freeze order of their assets."