By Francis Allan L. Angelo


THE Iloilo provincial government continues to deny receiving part of the controversial P728-million fertilizer fund even as the House and Senate grill its purported brains, former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante.


Provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada said yesterday the provincial government refused a “very lucrative kickback” offer of 40 percent from a woman supplier.


Mejorada said the woman was trying to get the Capitol to submit a P10-million request for fertilizers sometime in March 2007 “but we steered clear of the fertilizer fund scam.”


“The moment the supplier told us that there was a 40 percent kickback in the transaction, we immediately said ‘no’ and asked her to leave,” Mejorada said.


Mejorada said the woman supplier, whose name he could no longer remember, had approached him with the necessary procurement documents already prepared and just awaiting the signature of Governor Niel Tupas Sr.


“She told me she could obtain the funding for the province through the Department of Agriculture, and all that we needed to do was to get Governor Tupas to sign the request for fertilizers,” he said.


However, Mejorada became suspicious about the liquid fertilizer that she was offering in the transaction and the “outrageous” offer of a 40-percent kickback. He quickly turned down the offer.


Mejorada said he informed Tupas about the anomalous offer. “The governor told me that I had done the right thing,” he said.


A few days later, the supplier went directly to see Tupas with the same offer, but the governor told her “to bring it elsewhere”.


Based on Commission on Audit reports, three congressional districts – 1st district, 2nd district and 3rd district – received allocations of P5 million each.


Bolante has again absolved President Arroyo in the fertilizer fund scam.