ANGELES CITY- The Office of the Ombudsman is set to criminally charge Sen. Lito Lapid before the Sandiganbayan for graft for his alleged participation in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam in 2004 when he was the governor of Pampanga.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has also approved the filing of charges against several current and former employees of the provincial government of Pampanga and the owner of the company that supplied the fertilizers.
Apart from Lapid, the Ombudsman is also charging other officials at the provincial Capitol, including: Benjamin Yuzon, provincial accountant; Vergel Yabut, treasurer; Leolita Aquino; Ma. Victoria Aquino-Abubakar, president of Malayan Pacific Trading Corp. and Dexter Alexander Vasquez, owner of the DA Vasquez Macro- Micro Fertilizer Resource.
In its resolution, the Ombudsman said Lapid and his co-accused violated pertinent provisions of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019), and Sections 10 and 18 of the Government Procurement Act (RA 9184) and Article 217 in relation to Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code. It was signed by Carpio last June 3.
Task Force Abono of the Field Investigation Office of the Ombudsman which investigated the fertilizer scam said Lapid purchased P4.8 million worth of liquid fertilizers in May 2004 out of the P5 million he got from then Agriculture Undersecretary Jocjoc Bolante.
The task force reported that the fertilizers were 1,000 percent overpriced. The task force finished its probe last Jan. 21. Lapid had reportedly admitted getting the P5 million from the Department of Agriculture which the provincial government used to buy fertilizers and other farm inputs in 2004, but the Ombudsman said there was no bidding for the purchase.
The task force cited records showing that the provincial government under Lapid purchased the 3,880 liters of fertilizers at P1,250 per liter from Macro-Micro Foliar Fertilizer. An investigating team showed a price of the same kind of fertilizer in the market was P120 per liter as against the provincial government’s price of P1,250 per liter.
But the Ombudsman also cited a farmers group in Pampanga denying ever receiving the fertilizers in 2004. Napoles client Only recently, Lapid was pointed to by pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy as the first senator to become a client of alleged pork barrel scandal mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Luy’s files showed a breakdown of the cash advances which Lapid supposedly received in 2003, when he was still Pampanga governor, and another in 2005, when he was already a senator. Luy claimed that Lapid received a total of P1,132,500 total cash advance—in US dollars and pesos—on Dec. 20, 2002, March 23, 2003, and May 7, 2003.
As a senator, the first transaction with Lapid according to the records, was P500,000 on Dec. 20, 2005, with the remarks “given at the Manila Hotel,” Luy said. The name of the senator is both in Napoles’s list and Luy’s files.
Lapid, who will exit from the Senate in 2016, is reportedly eyeing the mayoralty of Angeles City. He formally registered himself last month as a voter in Angeles City after purchasing a P16-million peso mansion in Barangay Pampang.
Lapid’s hometown is Porac, Pampanga where he also has a mansion.