Press Release
December 18, 2008

Senate probe on fertilizer fund scam to resume next week

The Senate blue ribbon committee has decided to hold a hearing on the P728-million fertilizer fund scam after Marites Aytona, the alleged runner of former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante, submitted herself to its custody.

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon, committee chair, said although the Senate is now on its Christmas break, the members of the panel will resume their hearings on Dec. 22, 10 a.m. on the alleged fertilizer fund scam.

"I told the members of the committee that we have to call a hearing because there is civil liberty element involved here. We do not want to keep her long in our custody, unless she asks for protective custody," he said in a press briefing.

Last Wednesday, Gordon has issued an arrest order against Aytona who has failed to attend the panel's Nov. 28, Dec. 10 and Dec. 17 hearings despite personal notices sent to her.

Aytona's brother, Ramon, came to the Senate Wednesday night. He told Gordon that Marites was not able to attend the panel's hearing that morning after an attempt against her life while they were on their way to the Senate.

Gordon said he is still not convinced with Aytona's story unless he hears her testimony on the next hearing, but said she expects her to be straightforward and honest with her testimony, especially after that alleged attempt on her life.

"Ms. Aytona said she was not able to attend the hearing yesterday because of what happened while they were on their way here. Even if I don't believe her, I have to respect that," Gordon said.

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