By Czarina Nicole Ong
Former Eastern Samar Rep. Marcelino Chicano Libanan and former Gov. Clotilde Japzon Salazar have been charged with graft before the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division in relation to the reportedly anomalous purchase of soil activators back in 2004.
Libanan was slapped with a single violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act while Salazar is facing two counts of graft.
They are charged along with former provincial agriculturist Jesus Agda, provincial accountant Vener Tabuena Dulfo, provincial general services officer Vilma Banzon Bormate, provincial administrator officer-in-charge Necitas Ponferrada, project development officer Samson Chua Nervez, former executive assistant Reynaldo Dorado, and former member of the bids and awards committee Manuel Bantay Japzon.
Private individuals Edilberto Apostol, general manager and owner of AKAME Marketing International and his staff Cecilia Apostol, Kevin Apostol and Mary Jane Fabian were likewise charged. Cecilia and Kevin are only charged with one count each while the rest are facing two graft charges each.
In the charge sheet filed by graft investigation and prosecution officer Joyrich Golangco, the local officials and private individuals were accused of conspiring with one another and causing undue injury to the government.
In the first graft charge, the local officials purchased 2,164 bags of NBEM-21 Microbial Inoculant and Soil Activator on April 15, 2004 from AKAME in the amount of P3,246,000 without the benefit of public bidding.
They resorted to direct contracting without valid justification and without conducting any canvass for a suitable substitute for NBEM-21. At the same time, AKAME Marketing International and its product, NBEM-21, are not registered with the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA).
On April 28, they made another purchase of 2,164 bags of NBEM-21 Microbial Inoculant and Soil Activator worth P3,246,000.
Golangco said in the charge sheet that their actions violated R.A. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act and other existing rules and regulations, especially when they facilitated the payment to AKAME despite the abovementioned irregularities.
Libanan’s bail bond, together with private individuals Cecilia and Kevin Apostol, has been set at P30,000 each. Salazar and the rest’s bail bond has been set at P60,000 each.