Press Release
December 8, 2008

Aytona apologizes for absence in Senate's fertilizer fund scam probe

Maritess Aytona, an alleged "runner" of former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante, has apologized to Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon for her failure to attend the Senate's past investigations into the P728-million fertilizer fund scam.

In her four-page affidavit she sent to the Senate blue ribbon committee, Aytona said it was never her intention to disobey the order of the committee but that her absence during the past hearings was due to health problems and other personal concerns.

"Ako ay mataimtim na humihingi ng dispensa sa kagalang-galang na miyembro at puno ng Blue Ribbon Committee sa hindi ko kaagad pagdalo sa mga pagdinig nguni't ito ay dala lamang ng problema ko sa aking kalusugan, personal na suliranin lalo na sa aking kapatid na may lung cancer, stage 4, na nasa ospital noong mga panahon na iyon at takot para sa aking kaligtasan, nguni't wala kahit sa aking guni-guni na sumuway sa kautusan ng Blue Ribbon Committee," her statement read.

Aytona denied any involvement on the fertilizer fund scam, stressing that she was merely a consultant of the foundation that is the implementor/proponent of the Department of Agriculture's project on the farm inputs - farm implements.

She also denied any association with Feshan Philippines Incorporated, and refuted Jose Barredo's claim that she was a runner of Bolante, saying that she never met nor talked to the former undersecretary.

Gordon said that while Aytona has submitted an affidavit explaining the extent of her participation in the project, it does not suffice to clear her name and convince the committee that she was not involved in the alleged irregular program.

"We need her to appear before the committee and tell us everything that she knows about the fertilizer program. Ms. Aytona should face her accuser and prove that she was not a runner of Mr. Bolante," he said.

Gordon added that the committee expects Aytona's presence on the next hearing on Wednesday (Dec. 8) or else they would be compelled to order her arrest.

"We have given her much time to ready herself for her testimony. She was not able to attend in the last hearing, despite saying that she would, because she was at the hospital. We understand that, but this time, we can no longer accept any excuses. She has to appear or else we will have her arrested," he said.

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