March 03, 2013
Liberal Party (LP) senatorial candidate Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay Jr. today said the latest Commission on Audit (CoA) report on the misuse of P195 million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) could be another “fertilizer fund scam.” Analyzing the conclusions reached by Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan and CoA, Magsaysay Jr. cited the glaring pattern of the abuse of farmers’ fund with the recent findings of the Commission.
“While we have yet to fully account the crooks who ripped off our poor farmers of their share in the farm subsidy program in 2004, we’re dealing with another mismanagement of government funds. It will not come as a surprise if the CoA would be able to uncover more in the days to come,” said Magsaysay Jr.
The former chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture and food took note of the apparent similarities in the CoA findings that a number of eventual recipients of public funds were bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) and that it happened during election years.
“We should not dismiss the possibility of dealing with the same set of perpetrators since it appears that the same scheme was used, the layering of fund distribution. So it’s possible that some of those in the know of the fertilizer fund scam could have employed the same modus operandi four or five years after,” he added.
Both fund fiasco happened to have been coursed through the Department of Agriculture and channeled to a bogus NGO. In the 2005 case, there were several NGOs and even private entities that were found to have participated in what Magsaysay Jr. described as “grand agricultural theft.”
“While I support a Senate probe into this issue, I would be more vigilant in requesting Sandiganbayan to decide the pending case submitted by the Ombudsman on the fertilizer fund scam. This vicious cycle of fund fraud at the expense of our poor farmers must stop and it should be now. We will not tolerate further scam and bleeding of government coffers. This is totally inconsistent with President Benigno Aquino III’s ‘Daang Matuwid’ reform program,” Magsaysay Jr. stressed.
Magsaysay Jr. led the Senate inquiry into the fertilizer fund scam, a scandal that shook the Arroyo administration in 2005.
The issue opened a can of worms as the probe focused on the mismanagement of the farm feeds and supplies and unmasked not a few but several key personalities in the Arroyo government and can be considered contributory in the crumbling further whatever was left of the credibility of the previous administration.
The government money meant for fertilizers of poor farmers was allegedly made to form part of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s war chest in her then bid for re-election in the 2004 presidential elections.
To this day, the issue continues to hound those alleged to be behind the raiding of the government’s coffers. The now Pampanga Rep. Arroyo, along with then Agriculture Secretary Luis “Cito” Lorezo Jr., Jocjoc Bolante and Assistant Secretary Ibarra Poliquit are now facing plunder charges in the Sandiganbayan.
“The mismanagement of the fertilizer fund is novel in its method and astounding in its shamelessness. The fertilizer fund is a premeditated, systematic and grand agricultural theft,” Magsaysay Jr. pointed out.
“Jocjoc Bolante is the architect of the fertilizer fund scam. He designed it. He was the brains. Closer examination of the dossiers submitted to the Senate and the testimonies of the witnesses themselves, including the DA personnel yielded do. The unexplained, hurried flight and abscond of Bolante in almost all public hearings of the Senate betray the existence of a guilty conscience. He was eventually caught in the US and the rest is history,” he added.
The Magsaysay committee report was hailed as the most outstanding spadework ever for a legislative inquiry and shining example of reforming the bureaucracy by demanding accountability and good governance.
Magsaysay, Ramon Jr.