Outgoing Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid ends his stint as a legislator with a graft case before the Sandiganbayan for an allegedly overpriced fertilizer purchase contract worth P4.8 million.
The Ombudsman found sufficient evidence to charge Lapid before the anti-graft court, radio reports said on Thursday, November 5.
An investigation showed that the provincial government under Lapid as governor paid private contractor Malayan Pacific Trading Corp. ( MPTC) P4.8 million for the fertilizer at P1,250 per liter that was overpriced by P1,100 per liter.
Ombudsman investigators also found out that the contract did not go through the required public bidding. The deal was contracted when Lapid was Pampanga governor in 2004.
Five others were included in the case:
- Provincial accountant Benjamin Yuzon
- Provincial treasurer Vergel Yabut
- Victoria Abubakar and Leolita Aquino, incorporators of Malayan Pacific Trading Corp. (MPTC).
- Dexter Alexander Vasquez, proprietor of D.A. Vasquez Macro-Micro Fertilizer Resources.
The Ombudsman said that in May 2004, the respondents caused undue injury to the government by giving unwarranted benefits to Abubakar, Aquino and Vasquez in the transaction.
It said its investigation showed the provincial government bought 3,880 liters of Macro-Micro Foliar Fertilizer formulated by DAVMMFR and distributed in Pampanga by MPTC.
The Ombudsman contested Lapid’s certification that there were no suitable substitutes for Macro-Micro Foliar Fertilizer.
It also noted indicating in the purchase request and order the brand name of fertilizer violated the Anti-Graft Law and its implementing rules and regulations.
The Ombudsman questioned the inordinate speed in which the transaction was consummated — from submission of the price quotation on May 12, 2004, to the issuance of a purchase order on May 24 and delivery of the fertilizer on May 26.
The Ombudsman added that Vasquez applied for product registration with the Fertilizer Pesticide Authority only on August 15, 2005 — more than a year after the May 2004 transaction.
MPTC has no certificate of license to operate and product registration, it added.
Lapid won a Senate seat in 2004 and 2010. His son Mark is running for senator in 2016 under the administration Liberal Party.