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Palace: Bolante ‘on his own’

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 11:47:00 10/23/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante is “on his own” and should answer the charges leveled against him over a multimillion-peso agriculture fund controversy when he returns to the country, Malacañang said.

Bolante’s lawyer, Ira Azulay, had said that the former government official would return to the country before the end of the month from the United States where he had sought refuge and petitioned for political asylum, which was rejected by the court there.

“He is on his own,” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said of Bolante, who allegedly funneled P728 million in fertilizer funds to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s campaign kitty in 2004.

“The fellow is coming home as a private citizen. He has to face up to the problems that he may have,” Ermita told reporters at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, where he saw off the President and her delegation to China early Thursday morning.

When asked if the Palace was worried that Bolante’s return could revive the fertilizer fund controversy, Ermita did not give a direct answer.

“We all know why he is being chased by these inquiries… But as I said, as far as we in the Palace are concerned, he has to address this as a private citizen. We have nothing to do with him,” Ermita said.

In a separate interview with reporters at the airport, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza also distanced the Palace from Bolante, whom he maintained as a private citizen.

Asked if the Palace would ask Bolante to cooperate in planned legislative inquiries on the fertilizer fund controversy, to clear his and the President’s names, Dureza said: “We don’t give anybody any advice especially a private person. He should take care of himself.”

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2008-10-23T04:07:59+00:00UTC10bUTCThu, 23 Oct 2008 04:07:59 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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