Archive for the ‘bolante’ Category

Plunder evidence vs ‘Joc Joc’ readied for Ombudsman

January 28, 2009

BY JP LOPEZ

THE Senate is readying the transmittal of testimonial and documentary evidence to help the Office of the Ombudsman in filing plunder charges against former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc Joc” Bolante and other key personalities implicated in the P728 million fertilizer fund mess.

“We have enough (evidence) to bring this (case) to the Ombudsman. There is a ton of evidence, and we have heard testimony among witnesses that was presented by way of checks and reports. We warn the Ombudsman that there is enough evidence,” Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Blue Ribbon Committee, said.

The Blue Ribbon panel is expected to come out with a preliminary report recommending the filing of plunder and other charges against Bolante, alleged Malacañang liaison Jaime Paule, alleged runner Marites Aytona, and others for defrauding the government of an estimated P620 million.

Gordon said money laundering, falsification of documents, and other offenses were committed but these would all be absorbed by plunder which is a capital offense.

Gordon lamented the lackadaisical attitude of the Ombudsman on the findings and recommendations of the Blue Ribbon and the food and agriculture committee in December of 2005 for the prosecution of Bolante whom they tagged as mastermind of the 2004 fund mess.

“It has been 1,056 days since the (Joker) Arroyo and (Ramon) Magsaysay (Jr.) committee submitted its report on its investigation into the fertilizer project but the Ombudsman has yet to file graft charges or take action against any individual in connection with the controversy,” he said.

Gordon said if the Ombudsman does not want the public to lump it together with the evasive, if not downright, lying witnesses, the Ombudsman should take action and stop putting off the filing of appropriate charges.

“I advise the Ombudsman not to tarry any longer because this will just open more questions that demand answers, and above all, demand what we call justice. Indeed, the people’s frustration is evident. People have become cynical and frustrated,” he added.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and a group of farmers tilling lands owned by the Arroyo family in Negros Occidental backed the possibility of plunder charges against Bolante and company.

CBCP spokesman Msgr. Pedro Quitorio and Task Force Mapalad president Jose Rhodito Angeles said the move of the Blue Ribbon committee is justified considering that it involves public funds. – With Gerard Naval(Malaya)

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ROXAS SAYS Agri funds misuse continues post-Bolante Roxas urges probe post-harvest funds

December 27, 2008

INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:47:00 12/27/2008

Filed Under: Graft & Corruption, Agriculture, Joc-joc Bolante

MANILA, Philippines — The alleged misuse of agriculture funds continues in the Department of Agriculture even after its former undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante left the agency, Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas said Saturday.

“Hindi nagtapos ang pangungurakot noong umalis si Joc-Joc sa DA. Itinuloy ng administrasyon ni Pangulong Arroyo ang maling paggamit ng pera ng taumbayan at nakita sa imbesigasyon na umabot ang kalokohan sa NABCOR (The corrupt practices didn’t end with Joc-Joc’s departure from the DA. The administration of President Arroyo continued its misuse of the people’s money and investigation showed it spread to NABCOR),” the Liberal Party president said in a press statement.

Bolante is linked to the P728-million fertilizer fund scam; the money intended for farmers’ fertilizer allegedly went instead into the campaign of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004.

Citing the 2007 report of the Commission on Audit, Roxas said some P300 million was disbursed by the DA for acquisition of post-harvest facilities, but these could not be validated by the auditing agency.

On top of this, he said, P95.167 million of post-harvest projects purchased by Nabcor were not used by farmers for being inapplicable and outmoded.

The 2007 CoA report also showed that P734.255 million was transferred from the DA to Nabcor, which in turn charged a 10-percent administrative fee when handing these to nongovernmental organizations and people’s organizations, thus reducing the amount benefiting these groups.

Aside from these alleged anomalies, the DA had taken P225.22 million from the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund and transferred this to the Nabcor for the implementation of a “Competitive Food Processing and Cold Chain Operation” project, despite Nabcor’s insufficient capability and manpower to carry this out.

“Hindi pwede na basta-basta ang ganitong paglipat ng pondo mula sa DA papuntang Nabcor at mga iba’t ibang grupo. Kailangan natin ng accountability at transparency dito (We can’t simply allow these fund transfers from the DA to Nabcor and other groups. We need accountability and transparency here),” he said.

Roxas said he has filed Senate Resolution 824 to look into the transactions of Nabcor which the Commission on Audit had found to be anomalous.

“Kung gusto nating gumanda ang buhay ng ating mga magsasaka at pakainin ang bawat Pilipino, siguraduhin muna natin na wasto ang paggamit ng pondo ng gobyerno (If we want to raise our agriculture sector and feed every Filipino, we have to ensure the proper use of government funds),” he said.

“No P14M cash for fertilizer”

November 17, 2008


BOLANTE, AUMENTADO, CHATTO, CAJES, JALA
If figures based on documents of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Commission on Audit (COA) are accurate, the province received P14 million in fertilizer funds at the height of the 2004 elections.

However, Gov. Erico Aumentado, Representatives Edgar Chatto (First District), Roberto Cajes (Second

District) and former Third District congressman Eladio Jala all denied they actually received the fertilizer allocations in cash.Aumentado said he did not receive a single centavo out of the P5 million reportedly given to the provincial government as reflected in the DBM records of fund releases.

Chatto, Cajes and Jala also explained that they did not personally receive the farm inputs or any fund for the purpose.

The DBM and COA documents revealed the three solons as recipients of P3 million each.

The two incumbent solons and Jala, who is now assistant secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), all welcomed the Senate probe into the P728 million fertilizer subsidy that were allegedly diverted to bankroll the 2004 campaign of Arroyo and administration candidates.

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During Friday’s “The Governor Reports”, Aumentado said that he was only informed that fertilizers were delivered to the Provincial Agriculture Office. The farm inputs were purportedly purchased by the regional office of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Provincial Agriculturist Liza Quirog, in a separate interview, confirmed that no less than 40 towns were beneficiaries of the fertilizers distributed by the DA but could not give the amount of the farm inputs.

Quirog recalled having received and distributed the liquid (foliar) fertilizers to the towns sometime in July 2004.

The delivery of the fertilizers was done all at the same time with all the boxes brought to the provincial DA office.

The governor assigned Assistant Provincial Agriculturist Bebot Pinat to handle the distribution of the fertilizers to the municipal agriculture officers in the towns.

SOLONS EXPLAIN

The three solons said they all want to clear their names and welcomes the ongoing Senate inquiry with the testimony of former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante.

Rep. Chatto disclosed that it was then DA Regional Director Eduardo Lecciones who facilitated the fertilizer support program funneled directly to the local government units.

In his district, Chatto said it was Balilihan town that became the recipient since the interior town is known for enhancing agricultural productivity.

Vice Mayor Dominisio Chatto, who was then town mayor, was the one who implemented and audited in accordance with the procurement rules and procedures with full documentation.

Full liquidation of fund disbursements was done with the DA regional office, according to Balilihan municipal treasurer Lina Banac.

For his part, Rep. Cajes said he was asked by the regional DA to identify two towns that need fertilizers the most.

Cajes said he recommended San Isidro and Dagohoy towns. After recommending the towns, he never heard again what happened to the fertilizer support.

Then Dagohoy Mayor Sofronio Apat and then San Isidro Mayor Boy Samoya, both were not able to give him updates on the distribution of the fertilizers as he was already in the thick of the campaign for the 2004 elections.

Meanwhile, ASec. Jala said that when asked by Regional Director Eduardo Lecciones what town he wanted to receive fertilizers, he recommended the town of Bilar being one of the top rice producing towns in the province.

He was able to confirm from Bilar Mayor Fanuel Cadelina that organic fertilizers, granules, and not liquid, were distributed in his town.

Cajes, who used to chair the House committee on ethics recalled that Task Force Abuno, created by the Office of the Ombudsman, visited the town when the fertilizer scam erupted in the media.

In fact, he learned that a team from COA visited the town. He was informed by Mayor Cadelina that the team found no irregularity on the distribution of the fertilizers.

“Even before, I already favored the investigation of the fertilizer fund because my district will be affected by this mess when in fact it is really an agricultural district unlike Makati and Quezon City that were also listed to be recipients of farm inputs,” Cajes said.

“I’m sure there are available official records that would help in the investigations,” he added.

PRESIDENT’S ALLIES

According to a report of the Ombudsman, 53 governors, 105 congressmen and 23 municipal and city mayors received different amounts out of the fertilizer fund.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Bohol chair John Ruiz III said while not all solons and local officials got the farm subsidy, most of those included in the list of recipients were identified either as partymates or pro-Arroyo.

According to Ruiz, the three Bohol solons and the governor are just as responsible as the Arroyo administration on the fertilizer scam.

“Being the privileged few of supposed “trusted” government officials to implement such multi-million national program, it entails a sense of responsibility of the individual “public servants” to ensure that his/her poor farmer constituents would not be short change.”

Bayan made this statement as Ruiz claims that farmers under the Hugpong sa mga Mag-uumang Bol-anon (Humabol) “never heard of the actual distribution process of the fertilizers.”

In a survey conducted over dyRD, 95-percent of respondents do not believe that Pres. Arroyo is not involved in the supposed P728 million anomaly. (TheBoholChronicle)

FERTILIZER FUND PROBE Bolante clears Arroyo

November 13, 2008

Fund disbursement ‘not a scam’

By Maila Ager
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 05:59:00 11/13/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 14) Former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante has cleared President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of any involvement in the P728 million fertilizer fund scam.

At the same time, Bolante denied the disbursement of the money, which he is accused of diverting to Arroyo’s 2004 campaign kitty, was a scam.

Bolante was grilled for almost eight hours during the hearing, which ended a little past 7 p.m. and showed little signs of flagging, prompting Senator Panfilo Lacson to comment that the former agriculture official “is not sick.”

“As far as I know, the P728-million farm input and implement program funding of the Department of Agriculture was not a scam,” but a legal, valid and proper use of government money, Bolante said in response to questioning from Senator Loren Legarda.

“Your Honor, President Arroyo was not involved in this particular project of the Department of Agriculture. The implementation of the P728 million farm input-farm implement program was approved by the DBM [Department of Budget and Management] without the approval of President Arroyo,” Bolante said in response to a question by Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas at the start of the Senate investigation into the scandal Thursday.

But Roxas countered that Bolante’s answer was hard to believe.

“That’s hard to believe, Mr. Bolante because we know the President as a micromanager, she dips her hands into everything in government. For you to say that she did not approve this is hard to believe,” Roxas said in Filipino.

Pressed by Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Bolante reiterated that the President had nothing to do with the release of the fertilizer fund.

“Wala po [Nothing],” he said. “We did not have to [get the President’s approval because it’s a regular activity of the Department of Agriculture.”

“It’s part of the budget of the Department of Agriculture. The source of the fund is the regular budget of the Department of Agriculture,” he added.

“It was legal, valid and proper funding,” he told Legarda.

Bolante said there are records to prove this, including a memorandum of agreement indicating the recipients of the money and how it was used.

He also cited a report to the Commission on Audit that 91 percent of the fund had been liquidated.

Bolante said the project had been approved by the DA and did not require the approval of the President.

He also admitted that it was his office that prepared the list of project proponents of the fertilizer fund.

“The list was prepared by my office, tasked by the DA to put together all pending request from different units,” he said.

At the same time, Bolante described as “very unfair” and “railroaded” the Senate’s move to arrest him.

“In all honesty, I really feel that the decision to cite me for contempt and the consequent warrant of arrest was very unfair and railroaded,” he said.

He said the Senate, during the 13th Congress, had indicted him and branded him as the “architect” of the fertilizer fund scam.

Bolante said, “No,” when asked by Estrada whether the money was meant for administration candidates in the 2004 elections.

He said the records of the DA would show that most of these projects were implemented in June and July 2004 or long after the election.

Before this, Bolante has said that he has nothing to hide and apologized to the Senate for “whatever inconvenience” his absence has caused in the course of its investigation into the multimillion-peso fertilizer fund scam.

“I would like to apologize for whatever inconveniences my non-appearance to this august body has caused… I assure you, it’s not out of respect [to the Senate as a whole]” … nor I have something to hide,” said Bolante.

Bolante faced the upper chamber for the first time since he was implicated in the controversy in which he has been tagged as the alleged mastermind.

“It’s not our duty here to prove your guilt but to find the truth,” said Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, chairman of the blue ribbon committee that is presiding over the case.

At the same time, Cayetano said that while Bolante was “fit” to testify, the Senate medical doctor informed him that the former government official was suffering from chronic ulcer and therefore, should be allowed periodic snacks.

Bolante arrived at the Senate Thursday more than an hour before the hearing that started at 9:51 a.m.

Students from the Pasay North High School carried white and red roses for the senators as they sat at the gallery of the session hall to listen to the hearing.

Bolante has been accused of being the brains behind the alleged transfer of P728 million in fertilizer funds to the campaign kitty of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the 2004 election.

He has not issued a statement since his arrival from the United States where he fled shortly after the expose and tried but failed to seek political asylum.

Bolante arrived in the country last October 27 but before an arrest order could be served by the Senate was brought immediately to the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City where he stayed for more than two weeks until this Thursday.

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

October 30, 2008

By Thea Alberto
INQUIRER.net
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