Sorsogon ex-governor Lee convicted over fertilizer fund scam
18 September 2017
Sorsogon ex-Governor Raul Lee and Provincial Accountant Raul Hernandez were convicted by the Sandiganbayan of two counts of violation of Section 3(e) and Section 3(g) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019). They were sentenced to six to ten years imprisonment for each count, with perpetual disqualification from holding public office and were ordered to jointly and severally pay the province P2,591,595.00 as indemnification.
The conviction was an offshoot of their direct involvement in the 2004 fertilizer fund scam. The prosecution sealed tight the 2011 findings of the Ombudsman that Lee gave unwarranted benefit to Feshan Phils., Inc. in 2004 by approving the purchase of 2,133 liters of Bio Nature Organic Fertilizer for P1,500.00 per liter via direct contracting. Upon Commission on Audit’s fact-finding investigation, the same brand sold by other distributors would only cost P285.00 and P340.00, while available substitutes costing between P20.00 to P350.00 only.
Aside from violating the rule on public bidding, the prosecution also proved that at the time of transaction, Feshan license to sell had already expired.
The anti-graft court declared, “[t]he procurement resulted to undue injury to the government. The unexplained disparity in the purchase price of P1,500.00 per liter, and the least market price (Univet/Unibest) of P285.00 of the same Bio Nature Fertilizer by Feshan Phils., Inc. is patently preposterous. It is indiscernible why the same product from supposedly the “exclusive” distributor itself with address in Metro Manila would cost about 500% higher than that of the supplier in Naga City. Indeed, the purchase price of the subject fertilizers is way beyond FPA’s Average Prices of Fertilizers and Pesticides for September 2004 and October 2004. ###