The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) called on president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino to prosecute former agriculture secretary Cito Lorenzo on his involvement with the P728-million fertilizer fund scam of the Arroyo administration.  Lorenzo escaped inquiries such as the Senate Blue Ribbon committee investigation in 2005, same what his former undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante did on October 2005.  Prior to their escape, the peasant group filed plunder cases against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Lorenzo and Bolante before the Office of the Ombudsman on June 3, 2004.

The scam was discovered as peasants nationwide, particularly leaders and members of regional and provincial chapters of KMP testified that their local members never received any fertilizer subsidies as reported by the project.  The group said that the fund was released 3 months before the May 2004 presidential elections and it was Bolante who coordinated its immediate release with the Dept. of Budget and Management, selected and coordinated with the lawmaker-benefactors about the availability of the fund funneled through Ginintuang Masaganang Ani program, the agricultural program of Arroyo.

“Aquino should prosecute Lorenzo and not what he did at a social gathering on July 3 when he met him,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General in a press statement.

“This scam has wreaked havoc to the peasants as those who testified at the Senate and gave interviews were victimized by the Arroyo regime,” he added.

KMP said that Nilo Arado, Secretary-General of PAMANGGAS - Panay (KMP Panay) and a member of its National Council who testified at the senate inquiries was abducted on April 12, 2007 by believed to be elements of the military at Bgy. Cabanbanan, Oton town in Iloilo.  On January 16, 2005, Ofelia Rodriguez, a peasant leader of AMC (KMP Pampanga) was shot dead by alleged agents of the military after she appeared on a public-affairs television program and affirmed she never received any fertilizer subsidy.  

Also, KMP leaders such as Danilo Ramos and AMGL (KMP Central Luzon) leader Joseph Canlas observed their were being under surveillance after their testimonies at the Senate.

“We have been conned, abducted and killed, thus, this new government should be serious about investigating the fertilizer scam.  Lorenzo could not be innocent as he is the immediate superior of Bolante, he should be prosecuted,” Ramos said.

“We are now planning for heightened actions as the Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez slept over the case we filed.  Aquino should use all the ways and means to dig deeper this scam, expose and prosecute all those involved.  If he is unable to do this, his promise for change would mean simply a mass deception of people to vote for him during elections,” Ramos called. #

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