Press Release
December 3, 2008

Senate panel sees technical malversation in fertilizer fund program

After the third hearing on the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, the Senate blue ribbon committee found out that technical malversation might have been committed in the implementation of the Department of Agriculture's (DA) program in 2004.

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon, committee chair, said there are documents that would prove that technical malversation was committed insofar as the implementation of the DA's Farm Input-Farm Implements (FI-FI) program is concerned.

"The SARO (special allotment release order) states clearly that the fund is intended for farm inputs. But it was used to purchase items such as tractors and shredders, which are not included in the definition of a farm input. This just shows that there was technical malversation of funds," he said.

Gordon said the SARO dated February 3, 2004, the advise of SARO, and the notice of cash allocation (NCA) for the FI-FI program, all specify that the P728-million fund was intended for the purchase of farm inputs only.

Former DA Undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante himself explained that those under farm input category include pesticides, insecticides, seedlings, fingerlings, fertilizer, and the like.

Gordon however said some of the funds were used to buy tractors, pumps, shredders, tiller, thresher and other agricultural equipment, which are not under the category of farm input, and therefore shows that there was technical malversation of funds.

"There is technical malversation because the fund intended for farm inputs was used by other beneficiaries to purchase other items that do not fall under the category of farm input," he said.

Gordon explained that there is technical malversation when the offender is a public officer who is accountable for public funds and he applies the funds to a purpose different from that which they were originally appropriated by law.

Commission on Audit director for corporate sector Flerida Jimenez, who said that her team found significant irregularities in the program, attested that the SARO indeed specified that the fund's purpose is for the purchase of farm inputs only.

Moreover, DA assistant secretary for operations Dennis Araullo, former DA director for Region IV-A, submitted an affidavit showing that he has a pending case before the Office of the Ombudsman for using the fund in purchasing farm implements such as shredders and 15-horsepower gas engines.

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