Ex-congressman faces charges due to fertilizer fund scam involvement

By , on December 11, 2014

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MANILA – Former Marinduque Congressman Edmundo Reyes is facing malversation and graft charges following Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales’ orders for his involvement in the fertilizer fund scam.

Aside from Reyes, other Department of Agriculture (DA) officials were also slapped with charges including Regional Executive Director Dennis Araullo, Regional Accountant Raymundo Braganza, Regional Technical Directors Balagtas Torres and Rodolfo Guieb, Legislative Coordinator Lucille Odejar, Cashier II Dory Iranzo, and Margie Tajon Luz, president and chairman of the Board of Trustees of the non-government organization (NGO) Gabaymasa Foundation, Inc.

Morales also forfeited the retirement benefits of the six DA officials for being guilty of serious dishonesty, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service.

Records in 2004 showed that the Department of Budget and Management gave out P728 million for the Farm Inputs and Farm Implements Program or simply put “Fertilizer Fund”. Marinduque was one of the beneficiaries of the said initiative.

In March 2004, the Special Panel on Task Force Abono discovered that Reyes, Araullo, and Luz signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the procurement of fertilizers amounting to P5 million as supplied by B.T. Mangrubang.

According to Morales, the selection of Gabaymasa as project implementor is a violation of Commission on Audit’s (COA) Circular No. 96-003 which states that there should be due process that needs to be done in validating NGOs.

Gabaymasa is not located in Marinduque, rather in Quezon City.

Moreover, the said NGO only submitted their Financial Statement (FS) for 2003. COA requires the submission of FS for three years to make sure that the NGO is stable. Morales added that Gabaymasa has no record in agriculture.

Morales also noted that “public officers Reyes, Araullo, Braganza, Torres, Guieb, Odejar, and Iranzo, in conspiracy with Luz consented or, through abandonment or negligence, permitted Gabaymasa to take the P5-million fund in the guise of lawful disbursement, exhibiting “a deliberate lack of care or diligence in the performance of their respective duties…to achieve a common design of defrauding the government.”

On another matter, charges were dropped against Gabaymasa representatives Concha Idica, Ma. Cristina Vizcarra, Caridad Tajon, Melencio Punzalan, Rodolfo Luz, and Bernard Mangrubang of B.T. Mangrubang Enterprises for lack of probable cause.