Former Agusan mayor faces trial over fertilizer fund scam

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 1 July) – Former Mayor Percianita Racho of Buenavista, Agusan del Norte is facing trial before the Sandiganbayan for violation of the Government Procurement Reform Act and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for “anomalously disbursing” P3 million for the purchase of overpriced fertilizers, according to the Office of the Ombudsman in Mindanao.

Ombudsman-Mindanao said in an emailed press statement that based on the 2004 Annual Audit Report of the Commission on Audit (COA), at the time of purchase the cost of fertilizer in the market was only P125 per liter-sized bottle.

In 2004, Racho reportedly approved the purchase of 2,000 bottles of Bio-Nature at P1,500 per bottle.

In September 2005, the COA issued a Notice of Disallowance after it noted procurement violations such as lack of public bidding and overpricing by as much as P2.7 million.

Furthermore, laboratory tests found that the fertilizers bought were of inferior quality, said the Ombudsman.

Also facing trial as co-accused is Lucio Lapidez of Feshan Philippines, Inc.

“The manner and speed by which the transaction was consummated show that Racho acted with manifest partiality and evident bad faith in conspiracy with Lapidez in causing undue injury to Buenavista, giving Feshan unwarranted benefits,” the Ombudsman pointed out.