Press Release
February 2, 2006


For advising his client not to appear before a Senate inquiry into the multimillion-peso fertilizer scam probe, the lawyer of former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn "Joc-Joc" Bolante may find himself in hot water.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Thursday that lawyer Antonio Zulueta will have to explain before the Senate committee on agriculture why he should not be charged criminally for obstructing a valid legislative inquiry.

"This morning, Atty. Zulueta said on radio that he advised Mr. Bolante not to appear before the Senate hearing. If that is the case, that is tantamount to obstruction of justice and may make him criminally liable," Lacson said.

He noted that Bolante remains a key figure in the multimillion-peso fertilizer fund scam, where some P728 million in agriculture funds were diverted to fund Mrs. Gloria Arroyo's presidential bid in 2004.

Zulueta said in a radio interview that he advised Bolante to "wait" for the decision of the Supreme Court on their petition before appearing in the Senate probe. The petition asked the high court for a temporary restraining order on a standing Senate warrant for Bolante's arrest.

Lacson said he has written Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr., chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture, and asked him to summon Zulueta and demand an explanation for his advice.

"I wrote Sen. Magsaysay to summon (Zulueta), and to file the appropriate charges against him. At the very least, he should be made to explain before the Senate committee on agriculture why he gave Bolante such advice," he said. 

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