MANILA – The Sandiganbayan has affirmed its dismissal of the plunder case against former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocjoc Bolante in connection with the P723-million fertilizer fund scam.
In an 8-page decision, the anti-graft court’s Special 2nd Division reiterated its jurisdiction and authority to dismiss the case.
It said prosecutors had “ignorantly accused the court of going beyond its authority to determine probable cause for the purpose of the issuance of warrants of arrest."
In a decision promulgated on November 28, 2016, the Sandiganbayan Special 2nd Division dropped the case after state prosecutors failed to provide evidence that will link Bolante to acts of plunder.
The fund scam broke out in 2004 after Senator Panfilo Lacson accused then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of buying votes using fertilizer funds.
After separate investigations by the Senate and the Office of the Ombudsman, a plunder case was filed in 2011.
State prosecutors accused Bolante of pocketing P265.642 million from the P723 million fertilizer funds released under the Farm Input Farm Implement Program (FIFIP) in 2004.
Also named conspirators were former DA secretary Luis Ramon "Chito" Lorenzo, former DA assistant secretary Ibarra Poliquit, and private individuals Jaime Paule, Marilyn Araos, Joselito Flordeliza, Marites Aytona, Jose Barredo and Leonicia Marco-Llarena.
The Ombudsman alleged that Bolante conspired with Lorenzo, Poliquit in siphoning public funds after purchasing overpriced liquid fertilizers through Paule, Araos, Flordeliza, Aytona and Llanera.
The DA allegedly allocated P1,500 for every liter of fertilizer, when the supplier was only paid P150.