Cotabato guv returns to work after 90-day suspension over Cebu fertilizer scandal

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 21 Nov) – Cotabato Gov. Nancy Catamco returned to work Thursday after serving her 90-day suspension over a fertilizer scam that she was accused of involvement over a decade ago in Cebu province when she was still engaged in business.

Cotabato Gov. Nancy Catamco with military and local government officials in the municipality of Makilala on Thursday (21 November 2019). Photo from the Bayan ng Makilala Facebook page

After buckling down to work, Catamco, a Lumad from the Manobo-Tagawata tribe, attended a tribal ritual in Makilala, one of the towns in Cotabato province that was devastated by the series of powerful earthquakes last month.

Kay naay dako nga problema, naay dako nga solusyon ug muabli kini ug dako nga oportunidad” (Because we have a big problem, there’s also a big solution and this will open a big opportunity), she was quoted as saying in the Facebook page of the Makilala municipal government.

Catamco presented the program dubbed “Adopt a Family to Build a Home, Adopt a School to Build a Future, Adopt a Community to Build a Strong Nation.”

Vice Gov. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza, who took over as governor, yielded back the reins of power to Catamco peacefully.

“Effective November 21, I respectfully relinquished all the functions of the provincial governor as well as my chairmanships in the different committees and special bodies,” Talino-Mendoza said in a statement.

The suspension order stemmed from charges filed at the Sandiganbayan accusing her of supplying overpriced fertilizers worth P5 million to the local government of Porro, Cebu in 2004 when she was still a businesswoman.

The anti-graft court said the purchase was done without a public bidding.

The Commission on Audit found that the liquid fertilizers were overpriced by P1,092 per bottle for a supply contract of over 3,000 bottles.

Catamco earlier said the suspension order made her feel “very, very hurt,” saying the case was “without merit.” (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)