Lawmaker denies involvement in fertilizer fund scam-A A +A
Saturday, August 17, 2013
KIDAPAWAN CITY -- North Cotabato Representative Nancy Catamco vehemently denied accusations of alleged involvement in the P729-million fertilizer fund scam in 2004.
She admitted, though, that the Perzebros Company, which she and her husband Pompey Perez owned before their annulment, was included in the institutions the Office of the Ombudsman has ordered to submit counter affidavits.
The company was ordered to answer queries on issues concerning the delivery of foliar fertilizer on April 2004.
Catamco, in an interview, clarified her company was able to deliver fertilizers, through Bounty Grow -- a company owned by her sister who is based in General Santos City.
The fertilizers were worth P5 million, she said.
"We were just asked to answer why the delivery of foliar fertilizers was done before the registration of the Perzebros. And that was it," she said.
Based on records, the Perzebros -- sales distributor and commission agent -- was given a license to operate by the Fertilizers and Pesticides Authority (FPA) on April 28, 2004, while the delivery of the fertilizers to Aaron Foundation was done on April 17, 2004 or 11 days earlier.
"The Bounty Grow has long been engaged in manufacturing foliar fertilizers. The Perzebros filed an application for a certification from the FPA. It's just that the FPA approved our certification only on April 28, 2004. But the thing was, we had the delivery. It was not a ghost delivery," said Catamco.
The Task Force Abono of the Ombudsman's Field Investigation Office has ordered the Perzebros to answer its supposed violations of Section 3 (a) and (g) of the Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, in relation to Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code.
On June 10, 2013, the Perzebros was able to file their counter affidavits.
For Catamco, private respondents like Perzebros could not be charged with violation of RA 3019 because it may only be committed by public officers.
"While there are indeed offenses punishable under the Revised Penal Code or RA 3019 or even other special laws where the mere allegation of conspiracy will suffice in order to validly charge the persons who connived in the commission of the offense, the same does not apply to the offenses charged herein where the principal offender is a public officer. While such sufficiency may exist in an allegation against two or more public officers, the same will not hold true for a private respondent," her counter-affidavit stated.
After submitting their statement, Catamco said they have not received further notice or order from the court.
The Bounty Grow still continues to exist while Perzebros was dissolved after the marriage annulment of Catamco with Perez in 2007.
In March 2004, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was accused of vote-buying by authorizing the release of P728 million, which was supposedly to be used for the purchase of fertilizers for the farmers.
But a year later, some farmers claimed they did not receive any fertilizer from the local officials who were given the fertilizer funds.
Catamco said the scam happened at a time when she was still a private individual.
It was only in 2010 that she ran and won as representative of North Cotabato's second district. She won a re-election in May 2013.
"But since I became a congressman, my PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) has been used judiciously and I am transparent in all my transactions," she said. (MCM)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 17, 2013.