Martinez indicted for 2004 fertilizer scam
Former mayor insists paperwork for NGO were in order
Former Bogo Mayor Celestino “Tining” A. Martinez III and his former treasurer are facing another corruption case after the Ombudsman indicted them in connection with the 2004 fertilizer fund scam.
In a statement posted on its website yesterday, the Office of the Ombudsman said Martinez and former municipal treasurer Rhett Minguez are facing charges before the Sandiganbayan for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act in connection with the anomalous implementation of the Farm Inputs and Farm Implements Program in 2004.
Martinez and Minguez, along with former representative Clavel Asas-Martinez and five others, were also charged before the Sandiganbayan last year for allegedly misusing P15 million in pork barrel funds. Clavel is the mother of the former mayor.
In this new case, the Ombudsman said Bogo, then a municipality in May 2004, received six checks amounting to P6 million from the Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Unit VII for the procurement of fertilizer for rice and corn.
This formed part of the P728-million fertilizer funds that were released a few months before the 2004 presidential elections and allegedly diverted to former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s campaign kitty.
Martinez, who sits as ex officio member of the Cebu Provincial Board (PB) representing the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC), denied the charges in a telephone interview yesterday.
He said his lawyers filed a motion for reconsideration two weeks ago or immediately after he received the Ombudsman resolution.
“We also added some annexes to our defense. I cannot discuss the merits of the case but it’s all being handled by our lawyers,” he told Cebu Daily News.
“I really hope that this is resolved in our favor. The other party involved had their case dismissed already. Why are we being singled out?” he asked.
Charges against the incorporators of Sikap Yaman, the Quezon City-based nongovernment organization (NGO) that implemented the project, were dismissed for lack of probable cause and insufficient evidence.
The Ombudsman statement said Bogo entered into an undated memorandum of agreement with Sikap Yaman without stipulating the project cost and time schedule.
To process payment to Sikap Yaman, Martinez and Minguez allegedly issued undated and unnumbered disbursement vouchers and Allotment and Obligation Slips.
The Ombudsman said Sikap Yaman was not an accredited NGO, in violation of state auditing rules. The Commission on Audit (COA) also issued an Audit Observation Memorandum, noting that the NGO failed to submit an accomplishment report and a list of projects that it has implemented.
“The P6-million 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 Ombudsman stated.
Martinez yesterday said Sikap Yaman was “duly accredited by the town council” and documentary evidence was submitted to the Ombudsman.
He denied that he and Minguez issued undated and unnumbered vouchers and slips, saying this was “impossible.”
He said all the vouchers go through the Office of the Municipal Accountant. He also noted that the town never received a notice of disallowance nor was their attention called.
“I don’t know why that is there but all the requirements for the disbursement of the amount were submitted as evidence,” he said.
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