With Merci out, GMA faces probe over fertilizer fund mess

Posted at 07/04/11 12:21 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman will finally look into the links of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to the P728 million fertilizer fund scandal.
In effect, Acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro is setting aside a decision under the jurisdiction of his former boss, Merceditas Gutierrez, who was earlier impeached by the House of Representatives because of the fund mess, among other reasons.

Gutierrez, a close ally of Arroyo, later resigned before the conviction process at the Senate could start.

Casimiro’s order approved the conduct of a fact-finding investigation against Arroyo. These are based on the complaints filed by former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

“It is an elementary principle that a Secretary is an alter ego of the President who has direct control…There is thus a need to conduct investigation as to the complicity or liability of the former President with respect to the allocation, release and expenditure of the fertilizer funds,” a press release from the Office of the Ombudsman read.

Last week, Casimiro ordered the filing of plunder charges against former Agriculture Secretary Luis Ramon “Cito” Lorenzo, Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante, Assistant Secretary Ibarra T. Poliquit and other officials with links to the fertilizer fund scam.

“With the foregoing, the Acting Ombudsman has reiterated the need to establish a special team to look into and take a proactive stance in bidding activities conducted by local agencies,” the Office of the Ombudsman said.