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The Fertilizer Scam ‘Smoking Guns’

October 31, 2008

The Senate amassed several thick folders of documentary evidence on the fertilizer scam.

It has also surfaced that more than the PhP 728-M tag on the scam, the actual estimate of public money lost in the anomaly is in the billions of pesos.

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism has been copiously chronicling the investigation efforts and has made available on line  the key documents constituting the emblematic ‘smoking guns’ in the case now awaiting further light, in a manner of speaking, with the ‘architect’ finally back from ‘exile’.

What is starkly apparent from the documents (and the reportage of PCIJ researched and written by veteran journalists Luz Rimban and Akecks Pabico, among them) is that while Joc Joc Bolante was the alleged orchestrator field bag man, two cabinet members, then Agriculture Secretary ~Luis ‘Cito’ Lorenzo and Budget Secretary Emilia ‘Emy’ Boncodin knew about and facilitated the huge fund releases.

Did they play only benign roles in the anomaly or should they themselves also be investigated and hailed to court?

Both Lorenzo and Boncodin are now out of government with Lorenzo living in the US and reportedly making periodic trips to Singapore and Hong Kong, while Boncodin is nursing a kidney ailment and rumored to be in dire financial straits.

But whatever their personal circumstances now are, the two ex cabinet members owe it to the Filipino people to step forward and also face the music.

As for Bolante, the clock is ticking on his ‘vacation’ at St. Luke’s Medical Center the bulletin issued yesterday describing him as “in stable condition but still needing to undergo more tests to determine his ability to stand stress.”

This was an apparent reference to the grilling that awaits him in the Senate and other bodies itching to hear his promised “revelations” about the fertilizer scam and “answer all the baseless and malicious accusations” against him.

We know the professional and even non-political manner that St. Luke’s does it work.

It surely wants to discharge Bolante as soon as it can and be freed from the 24/7 presence of the news media and civil society groups making sure they know just how Joc Joc really is.

The renowned hospital can ill afford to be accused of being an unwitting accessory to Bolante’s evasive tactics.

One text joke already making the rounds is that the St. Luke’s medical bulletin said Bolante’s blood pressure was found to be 110-over-acting.

The sardonic humor is a classic coping device of Filipinos, but the waiting cannot go on much longer.

As the next days will show, the next battle is over which entity really has jurisdiction over Bolante with Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales insisting the courts and not the Senate have first crack at him.


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