Press Release
November 4, 2008



Liberal President Senator Mar Roxas today slammed Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez anew for sitting on recommendations seeking to indict former DA Undersecretary Jocelyn "Joc-Joc" Bolante for graft in relation to his roles in at least two fund diversion scams in the Department of Agriculture.

"Bakit ba hindi maaksyunan ni Gutierrez ang mga rekomendasyon ng opisina niya na may kinalaman kay Joc-Joc? Sino ba ang dapat ipinagtatanggol ng Tanodbayan, ang taumbayan o ang mga malalapit sa Malacañang? (Why can't Gutierrez act on her own office's recommendations against Joc-Joc? Who is she sworn to protect, the people or those close to Malacañang?)" he asked.

"May dalawang kasong nilulumot na sa mesa niya. Apat na taon na niya itong hindi ginagalaw, kahit malinaw sa mga tauhan niya at sa mga ebidensiyang nakalap nila na may pananagutan si Bolante (There are two cases gathering dust on her desk. She has not acted on these for four years already, even if it's clear to her subordinates, from the evidence they gathered, that Bolante should be held liable)," he said.

The Ilonggo senator noted reports that Gutierrez has yet to act on a four-year old Ombudsman resolution which found Bolante guilty of misusing a P432-million fertilizer fund under the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani program in 2003. This resolution had been turned over to Gutierrez when she assumed her post as Ombudsman in 2005.

The charges were filed by the late journalist and former DA resident Ombudsman in Central Mindanao Marlene Esperat, who claimed that the fertilizers distributed were overpriced, the bidding rigged and procurement awarded to disqualified bidders. Esperat was gunned down before her children in their home in Sultan Kudarat.

"Nadamay na ang buhay ni Esperat at ang kabuhayan ng libu-libong magsasakang umaasa pa rin ng tulong sa gobyerno. Nasaan na ang hustisya? (The life of Esperat has been taken, while the livelihoods of thousands of farmers awaiting help from the government have been jeopardized. Where is justice?)," he said.

He also said that there is another separate preliminary report prepared by the Ombudsman's Field Investigation Office (FIO) which recommended the filing of criminal charges against the former undersecretary for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and violation of the Revised Penal Code provision on the illegal use of public funds or property in relation to the P728-million fertilizer fund diversion in 2004. The report had been submitted in 2006.

Bolante is known to be a close associate of First Gentleman Juan Miguel Arroyo. Meanwhile, Arroyo and Gutierrez were classmates in Ateneo.

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