Marawi's Omar Ali indicted over fertilizer fund scam

MANILA, Philippines – For his involvement in the alleged anomalous spending of public funds intended for farmers of Marawi City, former Muslim-rebel-turned-mayor Omar Ali has been indicted for graft by the Ombudsman.

In a resolution made public on Tuesday, September 9, the Office of the Ombudsman said it had found probable cause to file graft charges against Ali and private respondents Jaime Paule, Marilyn Araos, Marites Aytona, Leonicia Llarena, Minda Bombase, and Joselito Flordeliza.

According to the Ombudsman, a memorandum of agreement (MOA) was signed by Ali, the National Organization for Agricultural Enhancement and Productivity Incorporated (NOAEPI) headed by Flordeliza, and the Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Unit X.

Under this agreement, NOAEPI received P1,999,500 from DA to cover for liquid organic fertilizers priced at P1,500 per bottle.

The resolution cited the anomalies found by state auditors:

“In the performance of his official duty, Ali acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence, and gave unwarranted benefit to NOAEPI, and entered into a contract that is gross and manifestly disadvantageous to the government,” the resolution stated.

Ali and the other respondents will be charged for violation of Section 3 (e) in relation to Section 3(g) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. 

Section 3(e) of the law refers to "causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence."

Meanwhile, Section 3(g) of the law refers to "entering, on behalf of the Government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby."

Ali was elected mayor of Marawi City in 2004. During his term, several watchdogs and advocates cited innovations he had introduced in running the city.

He ran for governor in Lanao del Sur in 2007 but lost.

He was one the choices of Lakas-NUCD for its gubernatorial candidate in the August 2005 general elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The party, however, later on chose Zaldy Puti Ampatuan.

Prior to serving in public office, he was a member of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), where he was known as Kumander Solitario and chairman of the Lanao Norte State Revolutionary Committee. –