MANILA - The Office of the Ombudsman has found probable cause to indict two former governors, two former mayors and 20 other individuals for graft for alleged involvement in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam of 2004.
Facing charges before the Sandiganbayan are former Masbate governor Antonio Kho, former Rizal governor Casimiro Ynares Jr., former Butuan City mayor Leonidas Theresa Plaza and former Buenavista, Agusan del Norte mayor Percianita Racho.
The other respondents include other former and incumbent local government officials, members of bids and awards committees (BAC), as well as private suppliers.
They are former Masbate provincial administrator and BAC chairman Roger Rapsing, Hexaphil president Alex Rivera and Area Agriventures Inc. manager and collector Victoria Ajero.
Also indicted were former Rizal provincial agriculturist Danilo Rumbawa; BAC members Romulo Arcilla, Eugene Durusan, Victorina Olea, Eduardo Torres, Danilo Collantes and Virgilio Esguerra; and Mallyne Araos, representative of Feshan Philippines Inc.
Likewise ordered charged were former Butuan City agriculturist Salvador Satorre, city treasurer Adulfo Llagas, assistant city treasurer Arthur Castro, general services officer Rodolfo Evanoso, accountant Bebiano Calo, city budget officer Danilo Furia, supply officer Melita Loida Galbo and Lucio Lapidez, representative of Feshan Philippines Inc.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said the officials and the other respondents would be indicted for graft and violation of Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
Apart from criminal charges, she said Rapsing, Castro, Llagas, Furia, Galbo, Rumbawa, Almajose, Arcilla, Durusan, Olea, Torres, Collantes and Esguerra were ordered dismissed from government service with accessory penalties after being found guilty of grave misconduct, dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
The cases stem from the unlawful disbursement of the P728-million fertilizer fund allocated for the implementation of the Farm Inputs and Farm Implements Program (FIFIP) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in February 2004.
In the case of the provincial government of Masbate, investigation showed that on April 22, 2004, Kho entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the DA-Regional Field Unit V, as one of the beneficiaries of the FIFIP entitling the province to P5 million.
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