Morales blames Gutierrez for weak fertilizer scam case

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 28 2014 06:22 PM | Updated as of Aug 29 2014 12:05 PM

MANILA - Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales blamed her predecessor, Merceditas Gutierrez, for what happened in the fertilizer fund scam case.

Morales said her predecessor was the one who filed the case against former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante and former Agriculture Secretary Cito Lorenzo.

“I did not file the information. It was my predecessor… Don’t take it against me personally,” she said.

She insisted, however, that the case is strong.

Gutierrez was a classmate of former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.

In a 46-page resolution promulgated last August 15, the Sandiganbayan said it did not find probable cause to charge former agriculture officials with plunder over the P723 million fertilizer fund scam.

The anti-graft court's second division said: "All told, the evidence so far presented by the prosecution fails to establish the existence of probable cause that accused Bolante, by himself or with the help of his co-accused, amassed, accumulated, and/or acquired ill-gotten wealth in the aggregate amount of at least 50 million pesos."

In a statement, lawyer Mario Bautista said: "The finding of the sandiganbayan that there is insufficient evidence to support probable cause against Sec. Cito Lorenzo is based on the evidence presented on record and the applicable law. It is not at all surprising. From the very start, we have maintained that Sec. Cito Lorenzo is innocent of the crime of plunder. Now, the sandiganbayan has confirmed it."

Meanwhile, Morales said they are still conducting a preliminary investigation on the subsequent batches of pork barrel scam cases.

She believes the justices handling the pork barrel scam trials in the Sandiganbayan are fair.

He also believes the prosecutors are doing their jobs seriously.

Morales, meantime, said the Office of the Ombudsman has not found Maya Santos yet.

Santos is one of those tagged in the pork scam cases.