Press Release
February 4, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today advised members of the House of Representatives not to muddle the ongoing investigation into the P728 million fertilizer fund scam by accusing members of the Senate of unleashing a smear campaign against them.

Pimentel said congressmen who have been implicated in the anomaly by witnesses during the Senate hearings should present credible explanation or counter-evidence if their hands indeed are clean.

Some of those whose names were dragged into the scandal have dared their accusers to charge them in court. If it can really be proven that they asked and received commissions from the release of the fertilizer money, that is a criminal offense for which they should be penalized, he said.

The minority leader said it is unfair to say that inter-chamber courtesy is being violated by the Senate just because damaging information against certain congressmen surfaced in the course of the testimonies of witnesses and resource persons during the Senate inquiry.

Pimentel said the senators have no other motive behind the investigation of the fertilizer fund scam but to unearth the truth. He said the congressmen will not be contributing to the quest for truth if they will try to cover up the anomaly through squid tactics.

As shown by the records of the Commission on Audit, more than 100 congressmen, 53 governors and 26 town mayors received between P3 million and P10 million each in fertilizer funds from the Department of Agriculture shortly before the May 10, 2004 elections.

The release of the fertilizer funds, according to the testimonies of DA officials, was controlled and managed by then Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn Joc Joc Bolante, since the time opposition leaders exposed the scam in February, 2004 to opposition leaders have charged that the funds were diverted to ensure the victory of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Pimentel dared the congressmen and local chief executives linked to the scandal to disprove the allegation, particularly by witness Jose Barredo, Jr., that they received a commission of not less than 30 percent euphemistically called SOP or standard operating procedure and that the fertilizer supplies that were purchased were grossly overpriced.

Barredo served as a broker between the supplier of liquid fertilizer, Fesham Philippines, Inc., and the congressmen/local officials.

COA officials confirmed during the Senate hearings that the fertilizer used in the DAs Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) program was overpriced by at least P127 million.

Commenting on the irate congressmens grumbling that they are victims of Senates bashing to retaliate for the Houses move to abolish the Senate, Pimentel said the reaction is completely unfounded.

That is the defense of persons whose fingers were caught inside the cookie jar, he said.

Stressing that the Senate probe into the fertilizer fund must be pursued up to its logical end, Pimentel said there should be parallel action on the part of the COA and Ombudsman to pursue the investigation and prosecute the graft charges against the culprits.

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