Graft raps set vs Lapid on fertilizer scam

By Ding Cervantes, The Philippine Star

Posted at Aug 01 2014 04:35 AM | Updated as of Aug 01 2014 09:11 PM

ANGELES CITY – The Office of the Ombudsman is set to file graft charges against Sen. Lito Lapid for his alleged involvement in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam when he was the governor of Pampanga in 2004.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales also approved the filing of charges against several incumbent and former employees of the provincial government and the owner of the company that supplied the fertilizer.

Aside from Lapid, set to be charged are provincial officials Benjamin Yuzon, Vergel Yabut and Leolita Aquino; Ma. Victoria Aquino-Abubakar, president of Malayan Pacific Trading Corp., and Dexter Alexander Vasquez, owner of DA Vasquez Macro-Micro Fertilizer Resource.

In a resolution, the Ombudsman said Lapid and his co-accused violated the provisions of the anti-graft and corrupt practices law, the government procurement law and Article 217 in relation to Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code.

The resolution was signed by Morales last June 3.

Ombudsman’s Task Force Abono, which investigated the fertilizer scam, said Lapid purchased P4.8 million worth of liquid fertilizer in May 2004, out of the P5 million he got from then agriculture undersecretary Jocjoc Bolante.

The task force, which finished its probe last Jan. 21, reported that the fertilizers were 1,000 percent overpriced.

It said Lapid reportedly admitted receiving P5 million from the Department of Agriculture, which the provincial government used to buy fertilizer and other farm inputs in 2004.

The Ombudsman said no bidding was conducted for the fertilizer purchase.

The task force cited records showing the provincial government, under Lapid, purchased 3,880 liters of fertilizer at P1,250 per liter from Macro-Micro Fertilizer.

Investigation showed the same kind of fertilizer costs only P120 per liter.

The Ombudsman cited a farmers group in Pampanga that denied receiving the fertilizer in 2004.

Recently, Lapid was tagged by whistle-blower Benhur Luy as the first senator to become a client of alleged pork scam brains Janet Lim-Napoles.

Luy’s files showed a breakdown of the cash advances, which Lapid supposedly received in 2003, when he was Pampanga governor, and another in 2005, when he was a senator.