Press Release
November 28, 2008

Aytona, a no-show in Senate hearing on fertilizer fund scam

Maritess Aytona, the alleged runner of former agriculture secretary Jocelyn Bolante, was a no-show at the resumption of the Senate investigation into the alleged P728-million fertilizer fund scam as she was brought to the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City.

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, made the disclosure after he was officially informed behind Aytona's failure to attend at today's hearing purportedly because she suffered from high blood pressure.

"I just want to put it on record that a possible witness, in the person of Maritess Aytona, could not make it to the hearing today. I just got the information that she is in the Philippine Heart Center," he said.

Gordon disclosed that he met with Aytona last Thursday, in the presence of her lawyer, to ensure her appearance at today's hearing.

"I met with her for about an hour and I told her to appear. Aytona said she was saddled with fear and having blood pressure problems, but I told her that she should just tell the truth," he said.

The senator said she met with Aytona, a possible key witness to the investigation, to ensure that she would attend today's hearing to shed light on the fertilizer fund scam.

"She did promise to attend. And I did tell her that she would be subjected to examination here," he said.

Gordon said she assured Aytona that she will be safe when she presents herself before the Senate committee.

Gordon ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to locate the whereabouts of Aytona after the Senate failed to deliver her invitation because her whereabouts were not known.

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