Two lawmakers decried the dismissal of the plunder case against former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante for the 2004 fertilizer fund scam.
Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate called it a blow to the anti-corruption campaign and emphasized the need to look into the decision.
“Kailangang matignan maige ito dahil parang in the past several years or past several months mukhang ang conviction rate ng Office of the Ombudsman and special prosecutor mukhang puro patalo,” he said.
(This needs to be looked into because it seems that in the past several years or past several months, it seems that the conviction rate of the Office of the Ombudsman and special prosecutor are at a losing end.)
The Sandiganbayan Special 2nd Division dropped the case against Bolante after state prosecutors failed to provide evidence that will link Bolante to plunder activities.
Kabayan party-list Representative Harry Roque, a private complainant in the case that questioned Bolante's bid for asylum in the United States at the height of the case’s prosecution, also lamented the development.
“Nalulungkot ako yung mga kasong yan kung saan ginugol natin ang panahon ay di successfully prosecuted by Ombudsman,” Roque said.
(I feel sad that those cases where we allotted our time were not successfully prosecuted by Ombudsman.)
Meanwhile, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has yet to receive a copy of the Sandiganbayan decision onBolante's case.
"But at all events, if we can make a question of law out of it or if we feel there's a grave abuse of discretion, if and when our motion should be denied, then we can raise it up to the Supreme Court," Morales said.
She said her office will review the decision for possible filing of a motion for reconsideration to ask for the reversal of the Sandiganbayan ruling.
The fertilizer fund scam alleges that fertilizer funds were diverted to farmer beneficiaries through lawmakers.
However, an investigation showed some of the intended recipients were lawmakers who had no farming districts like city representatives.
The funds were allegedly used to ensure political support for then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who was running for president in the 2004 elections.
The Arroyo camp has yet to issue a statement.
--with reports from Carolyn Bonquin, ABS-CBN News