Trader cleared in P1.95-M fertilizer purchase by DA

Published March 6, 2021, 11:08 AM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Sandiganbayan has dismissed the graft charge filed against fertilizer trader Jonar Buraga Balisi Jr. of BALS Enterprises for selling P1.95 million worth of liquid fertilizer to the Department of Agriculture (DA) without public bidding in 2004.

 In a decision, the anti-graft court ruled that the prosecution failed to adduce evidence that Bilisi conspired with officials of the DA’s field office in Region 1 in resorting to direct purchase of 1,300 bottles of liquid fertilizer.

Associate Justice Rafael R. Lagos, who wrote the decision, said that there was nothing wrong when Balisi submitted BALS Enterprises’ canvass form and delivered the 1,300 bottles of Fil-Ocean liquid foliar fertilizer. 

The decision stated that since the items arrived in good condition, there was nothing to show how Balisi acted with evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.

Balisi’s co-acccused in the case were Renerio Bermio Belarmino Jr., former DA regional executive director;  Flora Gagni, former regional technical director; former bids and awards committee (BAC) chairman Francisco Casil; former BAC members Lourdes Gonzales and Jonathan Bugaoan; and former accountant Avelina Soriano.

It was not known immediately what has happened to their cases.

During the trial, Balisi testified that he did not personally know the members of the BAC. He said it was the BAC which sought the approval of his offer to buy liquid fertilizer directly from BALS Enterprises.

Because the prosecution was unable to present evidence showing how Balisi conspired with his co-accused, the anti-graft court decided to acquit him.

“Wherefore, premises considered, the Court finds accused Jonar Buraga Balisi Jr. not guilty of the charge in the Information (criminal charge sheet) for failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. There being no act or omission on which civil liability may arise, no such liability may be adjudged against him,” the Sandiganbayan ruled.

Associate Justice Maria Theresa V. Mendoza Arcega and Maryann E. Corpus Manalac concurred in the 19-page decision.