Three Metro Manila lawmakers got 'fertilizer' funds

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 13 2008 11:42 AM | Updated as of Nov 13 2008 07:54 PM

Former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn "Jocjoc" Bolante on Thursday admitted granting requests of at least three representatives of non-agricultural congressional districts in Metro Manila.

However, he clarified that funds were released as part of the government's assistance for "urban agricultural" projects within the lawmakers' constituencies.

Bolante said identified the three lawmakers from Metro Manila as Nanette Castelo-Daza of Quezon City, Eduardo Zialcita of Parañaque City and former congressman Ricky Sandoval of Malabon-Navotas.

The former agriculture undersecretary said the three requested funds for agriculture projects. He said they received part of the P728-million fertilizer fund, which, he clarified was not solely for the purchase of farm inputs and implements.

He explained that the three Metro Manila lawmakers had urban agricultural projects.

"Yes there were requests for urban agricultural projects. For example, Congressman Zialcita was very proud of his project for producing compost out of garbage," he said, adding that there have been successful urban agricultural projects.

Earlier, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri denied that he accepted an offer by the Department of Agriculture to take P5 million of the multi-million "farm inputs, farm implements" project.

"Being an agriculturist, a trained and educated agriculturist, I knew for a fact that fertilizer was not needed by the farmers of Bukidnon. The fertilizers [being offered] were more for ornamental application," Zubiri said at the opening of the fertilizer fund scam probe.

Over 100 congressman, governors and mayors reportedly received part of the allegedly misused fertilizer fund.

In 2006, the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food tagged Bolante as mastermind of the fertilizer fund scam, which the former undersecretary denied.