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Sandigan clears private supplier in fertilizer scam
In a 19-page decision promulgated on Feb. 26, the anti-graft court said the Office of the Ombudsman failed to prove the conspiracy for private respondent Jonar Balisi, proprietor of fertilizer supplier BALS Enterprises, to warrant his conviction of violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices.
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Sandigan clears private supplier in fertilizer scam

Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - March 9, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has acquitted a private businessman implicated in the 2004 fertilizar scam even as it issued another arrest warrant against a former regional director of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for the same offense.

In a 19-page decision promulgated on Feb. 26, the anti-graft court said the Office of the Ombudsman failed to prove the conspiracy for private respondent Jonar Balisi, proprietor of fertilizer supplier BALS Enterprises, to warrant his conviction of violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices.

The court said Balisi’s sole participation in the transaction that the prosecution was able to prove, was his submission of a canvas form indicating the proposed price quotation of the BALS Enterprises for the liquid foliar fertilizer.

“Accused Balisi testified that he did not personally know the members of the bids and awards committee and only knew the BAC officers by their names,” the anti-graft court said.

Citing the testimony of the prosecution witness, the court said it was the BAC that secured the approval of the regional executive director to resort to direct contracting and chose BALS Enterprise to be the supplier.

The court said Balisi received the payment only after he delivered the items, indicating he had no hand in the preparation and release of the vouchers in favor of his company.

In the same ruling, the anti-graft court ordered the case against former DA-Ilocos Region executive director Renerio Belarmino Jr. archived as he remains at large.

The court said the case would be revived once Belarmino is arrested. It said it would issue an alias warrant against Belarmino.

The Sandiganbayan earlier dismissed the case against former DA-Ilocos BAC chairman Francisco Casil and members Lourdes Gonzales and Jonathan Bugaoan for violation of their right to speedy resolution of their cases.

It said it took more than five years for the ombudsman to conclude its investigation before filing the case in court against the BAC officials.

The cases against former DA regional technical director Flora Gagni and former BAC member Avelina Soriano were dismissed by virtue of their deaths in 2008 and 2017, respectively.

Filed in 2017, the case stemmed from the purchase of 1,300 bottles of fertilizer in 2004, allegedly without public bidding.

FERTILIZER SCAM
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