“We did not accept the fertilizer fund offered to us in 2004 because we did not like the manner in which it was to be released, and that was long before we decided to join the opposition,” Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. said yesterday.
Marañon was reacting to a report in a national newspaper quoting whistle-blower Jose Barredo as saying that he was a “runner” tasked to talk to political allies of then President Gloria Arroyo about entering into memorandum of agreements to avail of fertilizer funds, which were then diverted to the 2004 presidential campaign.
The report quoted Barredo as saying in his sworn statement that among the politicians he had dealt with as a runner were Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella, Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr., and Rep. Alfredo Marañon III (Neg. Occ., 2nd District) and then Rep. Jose Carlos Lacson (Neg. Occ., 3rd District).
Barredo was also quoted as saying that the funds meant for the Marañons and Lacson were recalled because they moved to the opposition.
Alfredo Marañon Jr. said that in 2004, he, and not his son Alfredo III, was the congressman of the second district. The governor of Negros Occidental in 2004 was his late brother Joseph Marañon, and not him, he also said.
He, Lacson and his brother did not accept the fertilizer fund because they did not like the manner in which it was to be released, he added.
“We were being asked to sign a memorandum of agreement that it would be released through a foundation that was not even familiar to us,” he said.
He said they refused to accept the fertilizer fund long before they decided to support the presidential bid of Fernando Poe, so the statement that the funds for them were recalled because they joined the opposition is wrong.
Jose Ma. Valencia, chief of staff of then. Gov. Joseph Marañon and current governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., yesterday said the fertilizer fund offer was made to the Marañon brothers, Lacson and then Vice Governor Isidro Zayco, but they all turned it down because they believed it was improper that the fertilizer fund be released through a private foundation instead of through government entities.
They also were not familiar with the foundation that was not Negros-based, he said.
They refused to sign the prepared Memorandum of Agreements for the release of the so-called fertilizer funds to the private foundation, because they found it rather irregular, Valencia also said.
They questioned why they had to pass through a private foundation to avail of a government-funded project, he said.
“That was the reason for their not getting a share of the fertilizer fund, and not because they shifted to the opposition, which they did months later,” Valencia said.
A source said it was then Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante who spoke to Joseph Marañon about the fertilizer fund offer, but the governor has since passed away and cannot validate that.*CPG