The Fertilizer Fund scam is a Philippine political controversy involving accusations that Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante diverted ₱728 million in fertilizer funds to the 2004 election campaign of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In March 2004, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that Senator Panfilo Lacson accused President Arroyo of vote-buying by authorizing the release of ₱728 million. The money was supposedly to be used for the purchase of fertilizers which would be distributed to the local officials.
After a year, an episode of the Probe Team reported that some farmers claimed that they did not receive fertilizers from the funds released by the Department of Agriculture. A Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) special report was released later saying that billions of farm funds were used to fund Arroyo's presidential campaign.
Jocelyn Bolante was undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture when the fertilizer fund scam erupted in March 2004. He is accused of diverting at least ₱728 million in fertilizer funds to President Arroyo's 2004 election campaign. Bolante resigned from his post in September 2004.
When the controversy broke out in 2006, Bolante fled to the U.S. and sought asylum, but his petition was denied by the U.S. courts and he was eventually deported. He arrived in the Philippines on 28 October 2008. Upon his arrival, the Senate effected the warrant on Bolante, initially holding him under hospital arrest. After a month, he appeared in the Senate for the first time. He denies that the money was misused, stating that there was no fertilizer scam despite the findings of the Commission on Audit that there was 'excessive overpricing' of the liquid fertilizer purchased by Bolante's proponents. He cleared President Arroyo of any direct involvement, including the congressmen and other local officials implicated in the fertilizer fund scam. He testified that it was former Secretary of Agriculture Luis Lorenzo who requested the release of the fertilizer fund.
The Philippine Senate Committee on Agriculture in March 2006 recommended the filing of plunder charges against Bolante and Lorenzo, along with other officials of the Department of Agriculture. A copy of the inquiry was also sent to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC). The chair of the committee, Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr., said that Arroyo should be held accountable for mismanagement of the P728-million fertilizer fund.
The AMLC began its own investigation in September 2006 after the Philippine National Bank revealed it had received "2 suspicious transaction reports." The investigation showed that a Bolante-chaired firm, Livelihood Corp., transferred PHP172.6 million to Molugan Foundation Inc. and PHP40 million to Assembly of Gracious Samaritans Foundation, Inc. (AGS). Molugan Foundation also transferred PHP38 million to AGS.
Task Force Abono in 2008 looked into the involvement of some 140 congressmen in the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) program of the Department of Agriculture.
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