In a 36-page decision promulgated on Oct. 11, the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division found Januto and Balayon guilty of violating Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
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Ex- South Cotabato mayor gets 10 years over fertilizer scam
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - October 20, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Former mayor Romeo Januto of Norala, South Cotabato and incumbent Vice Mayor Victor Balayon have been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison in connection with the fertilizer fund scam.

In a 36-page decision promulgated on Oct. 11, the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division found Januto and Balayon guilty of violating Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Former municipal accountant Grace Mediana, bids and awards committee chairman Dominador Escucha Jr. and BAC member Carlos Bengil were also convicted of the same offense. They were meted the same prison term aside from perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

Balayon was BAC member at the time.

The case stemmed from the municipal government’s purchase of 1,000 boxes of organic fertilizer worth P1.8 million from private supplier RCS Trading in June 2004.

The Office of the Ombudsman said the local officials conspired in giving unwarranted benefit or preference to RCS Trading with the procurement without public bidding. 

The third division said the accused failed to present any valid justification for resorting to direct contracting.

The accused could not invoke “good faith,” noting that records show that they did not exercise “even a slight diligence” before awarding the contract, the court said.

“We found no evidence that the accused conducted a survey to determine if there were sub-dealers selling at a lower price for which no suitable substitute can be obtained,” the decision penned by Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez read.

The court said the identification of a specific brand to be procured was also in violation of RA 9184.

Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Ronald Moreno concurred with the ruling.

FERTILIZER SCAM
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