MANILA, Philippines - Militant groups belittled the criminal charges filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the Fertilizer Fund scam, saying the principal architect was even left out.
“After nearly seven years, plunder charges have not been filed against the principal architect of the scam, [former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante] and his associates. No cases have been filed against the suppliers of the diluted fertilizer,” the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed 2 graft charges last April 7 before the Sandiganbayan, naming as respondents incumbent Sorsogon Provincial Governor Raul R. Lee, accountant Raul G. Hernandez and provincial treasurer Ofelia D. Velasco.
It stemmed from the complaint of Sorsogon provincial board member Rebecca De Leon Aquino, who accused the officials of undue injury to the government by approving the purchase of 2,133 liters of Bio Nature Liquid Fertilizer from supplier Feshan Philippines Inc. in 2004.
“It boggles the mind how a resolution that was submitted to the Ombudsman in November 2008 was only approved by the same office on March 2011. If such is the rate of approval for the filing of criminal complaints against those involved in the scam, then it would take decades before Joc-joc or any other top official is charged,” Bayan said.
The Oust Merceditas Gutierrez (OMG!) said Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez “babied” the officials.
They said the filing was “too little, too late.”
Nonetheless, the belated filing only strengthens the case versus Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez before the Senate, Bayan said.
“We can truly say that there was inaction and refusal to file cases against the principal suspects in the fertilizer fund scam. We can see how the Ombudsman has protected high officials, including Gloria Macapagal Arroyo,” it added.
Assistant Ombudsman Jose de Jesus would not comment on the matter. He said: “We can't make any comment for now because it is an issue covered by the House Articles of Impeachment now with the Senate.”