BY JOEL CALAMBA ESCOL, Managing Editor
THE SANDIGANBAYAN has convicted two former top officials of the Department of Agriculture in connection with the reported overpriced purchase of liquid fertilizer in 2004, reports said.
According to reports, the latest fertilizer scam court conviction was part of the controversial P728-Million fertilizer fund scam in the same year in 2004.
It said in the 56-page court decision which was dated December 2, this year, the anti-graft sentenced former Regional Executive Director Oscar Parawan and Chief Accountant Ma. Perlice Julian to six years to eight years of imprisonment.
The two agriculture officials were convicted and found guilty of authorizing the transfer of P5 million of government funds to non-government organization (NGO) Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc. (MAMFI)
The reported transfer, the verdict reads, was without public bidding which was a regular activity when the government hired the services of any company or organization. In this case, it was the Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation, “which resulted in an overpriced purchase of liquid fertilizers.
The court added that “the P5-million was taken from the discretionary or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of former Congressman Isidro Real of Zamboanga del Sur.
“Accused Parawan performed overt acts by entering into a MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) with MAMFI based upon the request of accused Real, Jr., without public bidding, and without complying with COA Circular 96-003, and subsequently signing the checks issued to MAMFI,” the Sandiganbayan said in the verdict.
The decision also said that since Julian signed the disbursement vouchers, he (Julian) certified that the supporting documents are complete and in order which also allowed the release of said funds to MAMFI.
The verdict said: “By doing so, she (Julian) certified that the supporting documents are complete and proper and allowed for funds to be released in favor of MAMFI.”
The case also alleges that the conspiracy between Julian and four other co-accused to buy the liquid fertilizer worth P800 per 300 ml bottle, which was higher that the prevailing market price of P190 per 300 ml bottle, led to a P3.8-million loss to the coffers of the national government.
“There is no cogent reason why the implementation of the FIFIP (Farm Inputs/Farm Implements Program) in the first district of Zamboanga del Sur did not undergo public bidding. The accused resorted to a negotiated procurement without any showing that the circumstances allow for such,” the anti-graft court said.
“Parawan’s signature in the MOA, disbursement vouchers and checks and Julian’s signature in disbursement vouchers are acts which required their discretion. The court finds the claim of the accused that their acts were done upon the direction of their superior untenable.”