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Palace to Bolante: ‘Tell the truth’

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:05:00 10/24/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang dared former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante to “tell the truth” on the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, as it maintained that the courts is the “right `venue” to investigate the controversy.

Bolante, who is accused of funneling millions of pesos in fertilizer funds to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s campaign kitty in 2004, is set to return to the country before the end of the month after his petition for political asylum in the United States was denied.

“Ang pinakaimportante, sabihin ni Mr. Bolante ang katotohanan. Yan lang po ang ineexpect ng Palasyo [The important thing is for Mr. Bolante to tell the truth. That is what the Palace expects],” deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez told a news conference at the Palace.

“Ang katotohanan ay hindi yung may malakas na boses, kundi kung ano ang sabi n gating korte at kung ano ang ebidensiya sa korte, yun ang mas mabigat ang timbang [The truth does not come from those with the loudest voices. It is what the courts say, what pieces of evidence are brought before the courts. That weighs more],” he said.

Senate President Manuel Villar had proposed a caucus of all senators to determine whether or not to revive its investigation into the fertilizer fund controversy, which was stalled by Bolante’s escape to the US.

Asked if the Senate was the right forum to investigate the matter, Golez said: “As enshrined in our Constitution, our courts would be the right venue to find out the truth.”

But Golez acknowledged that the Senate is also mandated by the Constitution to conduct investigations in aid of legislation.

“Nobody can stop the Senate to conduct its own investigation in aid of legislation…It’s not unnecessary, that’s my point,” he said.

Bolante is closely identified with First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, who was also linked to allegations of cheating that propelled Arroyo to a fresh six-year term in the bitterly contested 2004 elections.

Arroyo was also accused of using senior military officials to cheat in the elections. A military fact-finding board cleared the so-called “Hello Garci” generals of wrongdoing, but its report was never made public in full.

Arroyo won by a margin of over one million votes over popular movie actor Fernando Poe Jr., who died seven months after the May 2004 general elections.

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Written by joelguinto

FriUTC2008-10-24T07:48:21+00:00UTC10bUTCFri, 24 Oct 2008 07:48:21 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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