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Romblon lawmaker, ex-Eastern Samar government cleared in fertilizer scam

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star
Romblon lawmaker, ex-Eastern Samar government cleared in fertilizer scam
Madrona and Salazar were acquitted on charges of violating Section 3 (e) Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The provision prohibits public officials from giving unwaranted benefit, advantage or preference to a private party or from causing any party, including the government, undue injury.
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MANILA, Philippines — Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus Madrona and former Eastern Samar governor Clotilde Salazar have been cleared of graft in connection with the 2004 fertilizer fund scam.

Madrona and Salazar were acquitted on charges of violating Section 3 (e) Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The provision prohibits public officials from giving unwaranted benefit, advantage or preference to a private party or from causing any party, including the government, undue injury.

The Sandiganbayan’s Sixth Division issued the resolutions dismissing the charges against Madrona and Salazar on Thursday.

Madrona’s co-accused, provincial agriculturist Geishler Fadri, senior agriculturist Oscar Galos and Elisa Morales of Feshan Philippines Inc., were also cleared of the charges.

Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in August 2017, the case stemmed from the provincial government’s award of a contract to Feshan for the supply of 3,333 bottles of liquid fertilizer worth P4.86 million when Madrona was governor.

The court said the bottles of liquid fertilizer were delivered, adding that there was no allegation of overpricing.

The prosecution failed to establish that the accused provincial officials’ decision to resort to direct contracting instead of public bidding was attended with malice or bad faith, it said.   

Meanwhile, the court granted the joint motion of Salazar and former provincial bids and awards committee member Manuel Japzon to dismiss the charges filed against them for the inordinate delay in the investigation by the ombudsman.

The sixth division found merit in the arguments of Salazar and Japzon that the charges should be dismissed after the Supreme Court junked those filed against their co-accused.

The court said the two were ”similarly situated” with the other defendants whose constitutional right to a speedy disposition of the cases was violated. It noted that the ombudsman took more than five years before it filed the cases before the Sandiganbayan.

The ombudsman said the Eastern Samar provincial government purchased fertilizer worth more than P6 million without public bidding. The supplier was not registered with the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, it added.  

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