Press Release
November 5, 2008

Pimentel cautions colleagues against obstructing probe of Bolante

Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, (PDP-Laban) today cautioned his colleagues against blocking the reopening of the Senate's investigation into the fertilizer fund scam that could expose them to suspicion that they may be unwittingly covering up the scandal.

Pimentel said the Senate should not squander the opportunity to complete the probe with the return of the alleged mastermind of the anomaly, former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn "Joc Joc" Bolante, who had fled to the United States to evade the probe.

He said the stand of some senators that the Senate should not revive an already "terminated" case would have made sense had the Office of the Ombudsman pursued the investigation and prosecution of Bolante and his co-perpetrators as recommended by the Senate committee on agriculture and blue ribbon committee which exhaustively looked into the fund misuse.

Since the Ombudsman has not done so without any justifiable reasons, Pimentel said this has weakened the proposition of some senators against hearing Bolante's testimony and entrusting such task to the Ombudsman.

"I can only hope that everybody is doing his thing in good faith and not attempt to protect some people who might be seriously involved in the Bolante caper," the minority leader said.

"It is difficult for me to attribute motives to what my colleagues are doing but certainly any position that tries to dissuade the Senate from investigating could very well be a part of an attempt to cover up."

Pimentel observed that Bolante using one alibi and legal maneuver after another to prevent himself from testifying before the Senate although he withdrew his petition with the Supreme Court to nullify the arrest warrant issued against him by the Senate.

"We would like to think that Mr. Bolante has now come to realize that he is placing even the Supreme Court on the line. Can you imagine, had he not withdrawn his petition, there is always that small percentage of possibility that the Supreme Court could issue a restraining order," he said.

"And what would be the message of that restraining order - that the Supreme Court would in effect be trying to cover up the misdeeds of Mr. Bolante. This is one angle that I supposed Mr. Bolante has realized. It is not good for him, it is not good for the Supreme Court, it is not good for the nation."

Pimentel said there is no legal impediment for the Senate to reinvestigate the case, as well as to put Bolante under its custody. In fact, he said the Senate is duty-bound to resume probe.

He cited page 35 of the joint report of the Senate agriculture committee and blue ribbon committee in the l3th Congress which states: "Just like one cannot have a well-done steak without the steak, the final report on the Bolante fertilizer fund scam cannot be closed with finality without the testimony of its brains and implementor Jocelyn Bolante. Thus, the order of contempt against Jocelyn Bolante must be enforced."

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