Ex-Surigao del Norte gov Barbers charged over 2004 fertilizer fund scam
MANILA, Philippines – Former Surigao del Norte governor Robert Lyndon Barbers was charged with graft over a 2004 fertilizer fund scam.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed the information before the Sandiganbayan last Friday, February 3, a copy of which was released to media on Friday, February 10, charging Barbers with two counts each of malversation and graft.
Barbers posted a bail of P140,000 on Friday, February 10.
According to the Ombudsman, the fertilizer purchased by Barbers in two instances in 2004 during his time as governor was overpriced by P4.43 million.
In May and December 2004, Barbers entered into a direct contract with Rosa Mia Trading and bought from them a total of 3,332 kilos of Elements Foliar Fertilizer at a price of P1,500 per kilo.
State investigators said the fertilizers bought in two tranches were overpriced by at least P1,330 per kilo.
Barbers was charged with two counts of graft for the instances of overpricing, and two counts of malversation for conspiring with the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) to approve the anomalous transaction.
Aside from Barbers, BAC chairman Vicente Madlos and members Bob Edera, Virginia Yuipco, Teresita Durero, Audie Relliquette, and Adolfo Pantilo Sr were also charged. Rosa Mia general manager Rose Marie Palacio was also included.
The charges fit into a pattern of local officials buying overpriced fertilizers in the period of 2004 to 2005, which was also when the fertilizer fund scam occurred. (READ: Ex-Rizal gov Ynares charged with graft for overpriced fertilizers)
The P728 million fertilizer fund scam was a conspiracy of officials, private suppliers and foundations to earn millions in kickbacks. It took the Department of Agriculture (DA) into the center of scandal, with former DA Undersecretary Jocelyn "Joc-joc" Bolante supposedly being behind the scheme. (READ: Joc-joc fertilizer scam and Jenny Napoles: More of the same)
Last December, the Sandiganbayan dismissed the plunder charges against Bolante for lack of evidence. The Office of the Ombudsman has filed an appeal before the anti-graft court to reinstate the charges against him. – Rappler.com