Mike Arroyo at St. Luke’s Hospital But not for Bolante, he says

By Thea Alberto
First Posted 10:53:00 10/30/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 2) First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo dropped by the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon but not to visit former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante who is also confined there.

The First Gentleman said he was at the hospital for his regular physical therapy session, following an angioplasty operation last year. He said his sessions were usually Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“We’re friends but we have not yet talked. We haven’t seen each other yet,” he said in Filipino, when asked whether he would visit Bolante, the alleged mastermind in the transfer of P728 million in fertilizer funds to the campaign kitty of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the 2004 elections.

Arroyo, who was seen at about 7:30 a.m., left three hours later.

Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Jose Balajadia Jr. also confirmed that the First Gentleman did not visit Bolante,

Balajadia was reacting to text messages which circulated Thursday soon after the President’s spouse went to St. Luke’s for his regular physical therapy session following a delicate angioplasty operation in 2007.

At a press conference, Balajadia said Senate personnel guarding Bolante round the clock had a logbook to track his guests.

So far, the names of the First Couple, or even Cabinet members such as Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, did not appear, he said.

“We have a log,” said Balajadia, disclosing that visitors of Bolante were “mostly relatives.”

The Senate will send its own doctors to conduct separate tests on Bolante, according to Balajadia.

But he could not say when, since Senate President Manuel Villar has been allowing Bolante to undergo all the tests that he wanted to avail of there.

“I’m not a doctor. It depends on the doctors,” he said, when asked if Bolante would be discharged from the hospital anytime soon.

“What SP [Senate President] said is we will give him a few more days (in the hospital),” he said, pointing out that the timeframe for medical tests would be the call of attending physicians.

However, Balajadia said it was absurd for the hospital to first get clearance from him before releasing any medical bulletin.

“Why would they ask for my approval? I’m only the security officer,” he said.

On Thursday afternoon, the SLMC finally issued a bulleting saying Bolante is stable but needs more to undergo more tests.

Bolante was brought to the SLMC Tuesday night, immediately after his arrival from the United States where he was deported following a failed bid for political asylum.

With a report from Nancy Carvajal, Michael Lim Ubac, Inquirer

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