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Cebu mayor, treasurer face raps over P6-M fertilizer scam

The Office of the Ombudsman investigates then prosecutes alleged anomalous transactions of government officials.

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman indicted a Cebu mayor and a municipal treasurer for graft in connection of the alleged anomalous implementation of the Farm Input and Farm Implements Program worth P6 million in 2004.

BogoMayor Celestino Martinez III and Municipal Treasurer Rhett Minguez are now facing graft charges before the Sandiganbayan.

The Office of the Ombudsman said that in May 2004, the municipality of Bogo got six checks totaling P6 million from the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit VII for the procurement of fertilizer for rice and corn.

During the implementation stage, Bogo town entered into an undated Memorandum of Agreement with non-government organization (NGO)-implementor, Sikap Yaman, with no stipulations as to project cost and time schedules.

To process the payment to the Quezon City-based NGO, Martinez and Minguez issued undated and unnumbered disbursement vouchers and Allotment and Obligation Slips.

The transaction was consummated despite the non-accreditation of Sikap Yaman as required by the Commission on Audit (COA).

The COA also issued an Audit Observation Memorandum noting that the NGO failed to submit a list of previous projects implemented and that no accomplishment reports were submitted.

“The P6,000,000 fund was released to Sikap Yaman in one instance, without any indication as to how or when it was supposed to implement the project, and without requiring the municipality to report, monitor and inspect the project actually accomplished,” the Office resolution said.

The charges against Sikap Yaman incorporators, Marcelo Balmaceda, Juliet Chan, Nenita Ocenar, Helen Bayugan and Marissa Rugay, were dismissed for lack of probable cause.

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