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Ombudsman upholds indictment of Syjuco for graft.

ILOILO CITY -- The Ombudsman has upheld the indictment for graft of former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr., an Iloilo municipal mayor and 11 others for irregularities related to a P3.241-million fertilizer project.

In a 13-page order dated Jan. 30 and approved on March 17, the antigraft body rejected the motions filed by Syjuco, Mayor Geefre Alonsabe of Alimodian town and their coaccused, finding no compelling reason to reconsider the assailed joint resolution.

The order upheld the Ombudsman's resolution dated Oct. 10, 2014, indicting Syjuco and the rest of the accused for violation of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).

In an earlier ruling, the Ombudsman said the accused conspired in 2004 to channel the funds for the purchase of fertilizers and their distribution to farmers in the second congressional district of Iloilo province, and allow the project's implementation through Tawo Kag Duta sa Kauswagan Cooperative (TKDKC), which was linked to Syjuco.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Western Visayas had entered into a memorandum of agreement with the municipality of Alimodian to implement the project, but the local government unit approved a separate deal with TKDKC as the implementing nongovernment organization (NGO).

The cooperative facilitated the canvassing and awarding of a purchase contract of P3,241,533 for Nitropert Organic Foliar fertilizer to Carlos Lim Enterprises, the lowest of three bidders.

It was later discovered that the TKDKC incorporators and officers were staff members of Syjuco, including his former chief of staff, Manuel Mejorada, who filed the complaint against him.

The cooperative's address was also found to be the same as Syjuco's residence's and his own foundation's on Rodriguez Street in Sta. Barbara town, also in Iloilo.

Syjuco argued that as a nominal party to the agreement between the DA and the local government unit, he had no responsibility to monitor the implementation of the project.

But the Ombudsman said Syjuco's established connection with the cooperative unravels his participation in the scheme to prejudice the government.

Moreover, it said the accused circumvented provisions of Republic Act No. 9184 (Procurement Act) and failed to comply with requirements for accreditation of NGOs before they entered into agreements with the government.

Also facing the graft case are Alimodian Councilor Job Almacen, former Vice Mayor Ramon Anino, former municipal council members Ireneo Mondero, Emmanuel Advincula, Aquiles Cabaluna Jr., Miguel Ambong and Roy Almonares and municipal agriculturist Roberto Alcudia.

The Ombudsman also found probable cause against Timoteo Tomas Salvilla, TKDKC executive director; Corazon Taladua, finance officer; and Edgardo Comoda.

Alonsabe, Almacen and Almonares claimed in their appeal that they voted against the municipal council resolution allowing the memorandum of agreement with the cooperative.

In rejecting their appeal, the Ombudsman said the officials did not categorically deny participation in the approval of the resolution and that they failed to show evidence they voted against its passage.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Apr 16, 2015
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