Ex-Leyte Governor, 5 others to face graft charges over P2M fertilizer deal

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DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman filed graft charges against former Southern Leyte Governor Rosette Lerias and five members of the Provincial Government Bids and Award Committee.

Lerias was charged along with Virginia Cruz, Catalino Olayvar, Teopisto Rojas, Jr., Fernando Moralde and Joseph Duarte, all membes of PGBAC.

The Ombudsman filed separate charges of Falsification of Public Documents agianst Cruz, Olayvar, Rojas, Jr., Moralde and Duarte.

Ombudsman investigators found that in June 2006, the province authorized the acquisition of P5million worth of fertilizers for the rehabilitation of its rice program.

In August 2006, the PGBAC resolved to engage in Direct Contracting with the Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Corporation (PhilPhos) for the fertilizer deal. Respondents claimed that the province entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with PhilPhos as the supplier of fertilizer. Subsequently, a check worth P2,313,545.00 was issued and received by Provincial Budget Officer Duarte as cash advance for 2,514 bags of fertilizers to be distributed in the municipalities of Libagon, St. Bernard, San Juan, Arahawan, Hinundayan, Hinunangan, San Francisco and Pintuyan.

But during the investigation, the Office of the Provincial Accountant certified that “there is no record of an existing MOA between the province and PhilPhos.”

Investigators also uncovered that “none of the conditions justified the Direct Contracting of fertilizers. What was used to justify the resort to Direct Contracting as stated in the PGBAC Resolution No. 55 [Series] of 2006, was the supposed MOA between the province and PhilPhos for the latter to supply the former with fertilizers. The execution of a MOA, however, is not one of the conditions enumerated in Section 50 of Republic Act No. 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act). Hence, by signing the PGBAC Resolution, respondents PGBAC members together with respondent Governor Lerias who approved the same, violated Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019.”

Leria’s earlier moved for  the dismissal of the case citing inordinate delay, but the Ombudsman junked his plea.

The Resolution stated that “the Office does not subscribe to the plea of dismissal based on inordinate delay. Unless preventive suspension is ordered, the investigation or fact-finding does not disturb, interrupt or vex the would be respondent, such that he may cry foul and claim inordinate delay in the case build-up. “-Jiann A. Padillo/Newsline.ph

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