THE Sandiganbayan has acquitted former Batangas Rep. Oscar Gozos and 10 officials of the Department of Agriculture–Regional Field Unit 4 of a technical malversation charge over the alleged misuse of P3 million government money from the P728-million fertilizer fund in 2004.
In a 38-page decision released yesterday, the anti-graft court’s Fourth Division said the defendants did not commit the criminal offense of illegal use of public funds for a purpose other than the one intended by law.
Associate Justice Bayani H. Jacinto penned the decision concurred in by Associate Justices Lorifel Lacap Pahimna and Alex L. Quiroz, Fourth Division chairman.
Based on the information filed on March 8, 2011, the Office of the Ombudsman accused Gozos and the DA-RFU 4 officials of using P3 million DA cash release for the acquisition of four shredder/chipper machines when the funds were intended for the purchase of fertilizer.
The money came from the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani program funded under RA 8435 or the Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA).
Prosecutors said the purchase of farm equipment was approved by the accused DA officials even if it was contrary to the purpose of the fund appropriation.