Lanao Norte Rep allowed to seek fertilizer fund scam case dismissal for lack of evidence

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 26 2018 01:51 PM

MANILA - The Sandiganbayan 2nd Division has allowed Lanao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo to move to dismiss for lack of evidence the graft and malversation case filed against him in connection with the fertilizer fund scam in 2004.

In a resolution dated Oct. 17, the anti-graft court granted Dimaporo's motion to file a demurrer to evidence, a pleading that questions prosecution evidence, as the Office of the Ombudsman has rested its case. 

“After a careful review of the records of the case and the evidence of the prosecution, the court is inclined to grant the oral motion of accused Dimaporo in order to adequately provide the defense an opportunity to test the sufficiency of the evidence presented by the prosecution and to determine if the same is enough to warrant a conviction,” the court said.

The court gave Dimaporo 10 days to file his demurrer to evidence and also gave the prosecution 10 days to comment.

Abdullah and his then provincial agriculturist Isabelo Luna VI and private individuals Felizardo Dragon, Evangeline Ontiveros, Rosalinda Bisenio and Elmer Sayre, are on trial for allegedly conspiring with one another for the use of P5 million in funds of the Farm Input and Farm Implement Program of the Department of Agriculture for ghost fertilizer projects.

The program was implemented during the time of then President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and then Agriculture Undersecretary Joc-Joc Bolante. 

Both Arroyo and Bolante were cleared of charges in the anomaly.  

The motion for leave of court, a pleading that seeks the court's permission, was filed after the prosecution finished presenting their evidence against the accused individuals.

If the court denies Dimaporo's demurrer to evidence, trial will proceed and he has to present his case. If granted, the case will be dismissed. 

In a resolution, the court noted that the prosecution maintained that it sufficiently proved Dimaporo's guilt and that pieces of evidence point to the fictitious nature of the suppliers, backing the allegation that the goods were not delivered to the supposed beneficiaries.

Dimaporo, however, stressed that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt because it was not able to present two of the four sets of documents pertaining to inspection reports and other financial and physical status reports related to the assailed procurement.

It was also emphasized that it was the DA that directly disbursed the amounts to the non-government organizations that facilitated the fertilizer projects and the money did not pass through Dimaporo's office.