LGUs in the Philippines

Anti-graft court acquits ex-Rizal gov Ynares, 7 others over fertilizer purchase

Rappler.com
Anti-graft court acquits ex-Rizal gov Ynares, 7 others over fertilizer purchase

Photo from Office of the Presidential Adviser for Southern Tagalog FB

The Sandiganbayan's Third Division believes the officials acted in good faith – but with negligence – when they relied on the agriculturist's recommendation and decided to forego of competitive bidding

MANILA, Philippines –  The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan recently found former Rizal governor Casimiro Ynares Jr., six more provincial officials, and a private defendant not guilty of four counts of graft. 

The case was filed by the Ombudsman in 2017, stemming from alleged questionable purchase of fertilizers more than a decade before that. Ynares last served as governor of Rizal from 2004 to 2007. 

Aside from Ynares, acquitted were: 

  • Cecilia Almajose – provincial accountant
  • Danilo Rumbawa – agriculturist
  • Eugene Durusan – member of the provincial bids and awards committee
  • Victoria Olea – PBAC member
  • Eduardo Torres – PBAC member
  • Virgilio Esguerra – PBAC member
  • Mallyne Araos – representative of supplier Feshan Philippines Inc.

In a 96-page ruling, Sandiganbayan Third Division Presiding Justice Ampro Cabotaje-Tang said there was not enough evidence to prove they conspired or deliberately favored supplier Feshan. 

The court believed the provincial officials in fact acted in good faith – but with negligence – when they relied on the recommendation of agriculturist Runbawa and decided to forego of competitive bidding.  

“The accused honestly believed, albeit wrongly, that they could legally resort to direct contracting…and that Bio Nature was the only fertilizer available at the market that met the needs of the farmer beneficiaries,” the Sandiganbayan said. 

Associate justices Bernelito Fernandez and Ronald B. Moreno concurred.

The provincial government purchased Bio Nature Liquid Organic Fertilizer from Feshan at P1,500 per bottle. Prosecutors said this was grossly overpriced because foliar fertilizers could be purchased from other suppliers for only P176 per bottle. 

The first contract, worth P1.83 million, was awarded to Feshan on November 11, 2004. Another contract, worth P1.56 million on February 12, 2005. 

The Sandiganbayan said: “Such belief and reliance on accused Rumbawa, by itself, cannot be automatically equated to [the accused] having a conscious design to be partial to Feshan. At best, it may be characterized as negligence on their part, but not as evidence, beyond reasonable doubt, of conspiracy.” – Rappler.com

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