Lorenzo main fertilizer scam respondent

PNS — FORMER Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Luis “Cito” Lorenzo is still considered as one of the principal respondents in the preliminary investigation on the controversial P728-million fertilizer fund scam which the Office of the Ombudsman will soon start.

This was disclosed yesterday in a press conference by Assistant Ombudsman and spokesperson Jose de Jesus as he revealed that the Ombudsman is set to summon Lorenzo and other personalities allegedly involved in the scam so they could submit their respective counter-affidavits on the charges filed against them.

De Jesus said the Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office (FIO) has already terminated its fact-finding investigation on the scam and has recommended filing criminal cases against Lorenzo and other personalities including former DA Undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante.

“Ang mga kaso ay para sa preliminary investigation pa lamang dito sa Ombudsman. Ang natapos na proseso ay ’yung tinatawag na fact-finding investigation. Kaya nagkaroon sila ng supplemental complaint para isama du’n sa earlier complaint na natigil dahil nga kailangan i-validate ’yung Gordon report (report of the Senate’s Blue Ribbon Committee on the fertilizer fund scam). At pagkatapos noon ay dadalhin du’n sa tinatawag naming Preliminary Investigation Administrative Adjudication and Monitoring Office (PAMO),” De Jesus explained.

The Ombudsman spokesperson disclosed that the FIO started its official fact-finding mission on the case in 2005 but clarified that there was no delay in filing the charges against those involved since the team has to consider the report of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee which was forwarded only to them in March 2009.

De Jesus also disclosed that the FIO report and the Gordon report did not mention the possible link or involvement of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the scam.

In the case of Lorenzo being a possible state witness, De Jesus said the Ombudsman would still evaluate his involvement in the case and review his answers on the allegations hurled against him.

De Jesus added that Lorenzo was charged for allegedly giving Bolante a free hand in the disposition of the funds.

Bolante, on the other hand, was charged for having prepared a list of proponents. However, the farming zones where the funds should be allocated were not followed.

In its 45-page report, the FIO named Lorenzo and Bolante as respondents in the case of violation of Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code (Malversation of Public Funds or Property) and Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices).