"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Friday, December 05, 2008

Blue Ribbon fertilizer probe to include Esperat slay

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will investigate motu propio the murder of Marlene Garcia Esperat who exposed an alleged illegal procurement of P432-million worth of fertilizer. Independent Senator Richard Gordon who chairs the said committee made the announcement at a press conference today.

While the Esperate murder case was mentioned in previous investigations at the Senate, Gordon explained that the predicate was not properly laid down about the complete circumstances that led to her assassination.

“This time we will investigate why a resident Ombudsman in the Agriculture Department in Mindanao was killed because she wanted to expose an anomaly. So far, the case has made some progress in courts but the masterminds have never been revealed,” he said.

“The anomaly allegedly involves as much as 460 million pesos involved, it was done by certain personalities, and the person who wanted to expose it was killed. This is what badly needs to be investigated,” he added.

The Independent Senator said that he is currently gathering complete evidence that will reveal and pinpoint who actually ordered Esperat's killing.

“Not only do we have corruption before us, but also we have a murder case. This points to the work of a powerful syndicate that orders the killing of people who would expose their criminal acts. We cannot let the country remain sleeping on cases such as this,” he said.

In 2003, Esperat filed a graft complaint against Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, former Agriculture Secretary Luis “Cito” Lorenzo Jr., and other officials of the Department of Agriculture.

Esperate, a resident Ombudsman in Central Mindanao, claimed that the fertilizer distributed under the P432-million Ginintuang Masaganang Ani program in 2003 were overpriced, the bidding was rigged and procurement was awarded to disqualified bidders.

Esperat was gunned down at her home in Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat, by an assassin on March 24, 2005, in front of her children.

Two weeks after the killing, Randy Grecia, one of the suspected lookouts, surrendered to police authorities, and subsequently pled guilty.

Grecia along with his three accomplices identified as Estanislao Bismanos, Gerry Cabayag, and Rowie Barua, testified that they were hired by two officials in the Department of Agriculture of Central Mindanao.

The suspected masterminds were identified as Estrella Sabay, Finance Officer, and Osmeña Montaner, Regional Accountant, DA Region 12. Murder charges were filed against the two in Tacurong City on October 20, 2008. (30/prf)


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