Press Release
February 2, 2009

Gordon laments over 'deafening silence' on P728-M fertilizer fund scam

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon has warned the Ombudsman that the Senate will no longer tolerate the anti-graft body's continuing silence on the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, allegedly engineered by former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante.

Gordon, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, deplored the Ombudsman's failure to take any action on the fertilizer fund scam during the more than 1,052 days that the Arroyo and Magsaysay committee had submitted a report on the Senate investigation into the fund scam..

"The Ombudsman can motu propio do this investigation if it so desires. But there is no energy on the part of the Ombudsman on this matter, which has already resulted in two or three deaths.. Despite of that, the silence had been deafening on the part of the whole administration, on the part of the Ombudsman and on the part of the Department of Justice (DOJ)," he said at the recent "Kapihan Sa Sulo" at the Sulo Hotel in Quezon City over the weekend.

"If even after the Senate blue ribbon committee has submitted a report, including its recommendations, the Ombudsman still does not file charges, I intend to haul her (Ombudsman Merceditas Guiterrez) to the committee. And during the next budget deliberation, we (senators) will look into their proposed budget," he added.

The blue ribbon committee is readying the transmittal to the Ombudsman of documents that would become the basis for the filing of appropriate charges against key personalities implicated to the P728-million fertilizer fund scam.

Gordon said both documentary and testimonial evidence collated by the panel is sufficient to substantiate charges that would be filed against the perpetrators of the grand scheme to defraud the government and the poor farmers.

The Ombudsman has yet to take action on the fund anomaly despite the submission of a report by the joint Arroyo and Magsaysay committee, which has first investigated the alleged anomalous project.

The Task Force Abono tasked by the Ombudsman to look into the fertilizer fund anomaly had also submitted its report to Gutierrez in June 2006, recommending the filing of graft charges against Bolante and his alleged co-conspirators.

Ombudsman investigators reportedly found that the purchased farm equipment were overpriced by as much as 200 to 300 percent, an absence of public bidding required by law, and the illegal use of public funds. But the Ombudsman also did not take any action.

Gordon also reiterated his proposal, should the Constitutional Convention push through after the May 2010 elections, for the Ombudsman to be en elected position upon submission of names by the Supreme Court who will call the nominees.

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