Three’s Company as Bolante Does a Garci and a Neri

From the looks of it, it seems that former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc Joc” Bolante is doing a Garci and a Neri, thus, adding the fertilizer scam to the list of issues that would hound the Arroyo government beyond 2010.


From the looks of it, it seems that former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc Joc” Bolante is doing a Garci and a Neri.

It would be remembered that former Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano fled when Congressional investigations on charges of electoral fraud during the 2004 presidential elections, with the expose’ of the “Hello Garci” tapes, were underway. The “Hello Garci” tapes contained recorded conversations between a woman – widely believed to be Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo – and a COMELEC official – widely believed to be Garcillano – talking about how a winning margin of a million votes for Arroyo could be assured.

Garcillano eventually surfaced declaring that he had nothing to hide (except perhaps himself). He appeared before Congressional inquiries denying any wrongdoing; Garcillano even denied Garci was one of his nicknames. On cue, Malacañang promptly declared the issue closed. But Garcillano’s strong denials did not assuage the public; it did not bring the issue of electoral fraud to a closure. In fact, the issue of legitimacy, or the lack of it, has been hounding President Arroyo up to the present.

Former National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Director General Romulo Neri, on the other hand, reluctantly testified before the Senate investigation regarding anomalies surrounding the approval of the $329 million National Broadband Network (NBN) contract awarded to ZTE of China. Neri exposed the bribery attempt on him by former COMELEC Chair Benjamin Abalos Sr. But he refused to reveal the details of his conversations with President Arroyo after he reported the bribery attempt to her, citing his right to “executive privilege”. The Supreme Court sided with Neri on the issue. And again, Malacañang declared the issue closed even as two other witnesses Jose de Venecia III and Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada pointed to the involvement of the president’s husband Jose Miguel Arroyo in the NBN-ZTE deal.

Up to the present, Neri has kept mum about the conversations, effectively shielding the president of any wrongdoing. And up to now, the issue of the anomalous NBN-ZTE deal, which allegedly involved the president’s husband Jose Miguel Arroyo and probably the president herself, has been hounding the Arroyo government.

Bolante would now be on the same boat as Garcillano and Neri. It was obvious that he had only one agenda when he finally testified at the Senate inquiry: deny knowledge of any anomaly involving the P728 million fertilizer fund and shield President Arroyo from being linked to the scam. In his hastiness to deny any wrongdoing, he contradicted the list he submitted to the Senate by saying that not a single centavo went to congressmen and governors. More absurd was his claim that he had no intention of snubbing the first Senate inquiry on the fertilizer scam three years ago, when he was all over the papers begging the US for asylum. When asked about the threats to his life that purportedly prompted him to seek asylum abroad, Bolante stammered an explanation. Even Arroyo ally Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago appeared exasperated with the blatant lies that Bolante was saying. But still, on cue for the nth time, Malacañang declared that the Arroyo government is vindicated of any involvement in the fertilizer scam.

It appears that this would be the track of the testimony of Bolante. That is, unless the Senate can produce evidences that could pin down Bolante. If that happens, then, you could bet your life on it that Bolante would invoke “executive privilege”.

Jocelyn “The Joke” Bolante is adding the fertilizer scam to the list of crimes that the Arroyo government thinks it could get away with. But it also adds to the issues that would hound the Arroyo government beyond 2010. That is why the Arroyo government is making sure that it would be able to influence the results of the 2010 presidential elections. If it feels that it could not, then there is always charter change to fall back on. By the way, moves to amend the 1987 Constitution are now being revived at the House of Representatives.

Would the Filipino people allow the Arroyo government to get away with murdering activists, stealing the people’s vote, and plundering the nation’s coffers? If we do, what then would prevent the Arroyo government from moving heaven and earth to perpetuate itself in power? President Arroyo already lied once when she declared in 2002 that she would not be running for president in 2004 only to take it back later. How can we be sure she would make good her declaration that she would step down peacefully in 2010? If ever the presidential elections would push through and the Arroyo government is able to influence the results, we could expect her anointed successor to be as audacious as her and for the culture of impunity in the commission of human rights violations and corruption to continue or even worsen.(

If the Filipino people do not want that to happen, it would be wise to follow Archbishop Angel Lagdameo’s advise that the time to act is now.(

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