Joc-joc Bolante and the Fertilizer Scam

Posted at 07/10/2008 1:48 PM | Updated as of 11/14/2008 3:29 PM

TIMELINE

2001—Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante is appointed as Department of Agriculture undersecretary for finance shortly after Arroyo assumes the presidency.

March 6, 2004- Philippine Daily Inquirer reports that Senator Panfilo Lacson accused President Arroyo of vote-buting by authorizing the release of P728 million funds supposedly for fertilizers to the local officials.

August 25, 2005—An episode of The Probe Team reports that some farmers claimed that they did not receive fertilizers from the fertilizer fund released by the DA.
 
September 28-29 2005PCIJ special report says that billions of farm funds were used to fund the presidential campaign of Arroyo.
 
October 6, 2005—The Senate starts its inquiry on the fertilizer scam.
 
October-December 2005—The Senate conducts hearings on the scam but Bolante fails to appear.

December 11, 2005—Bolante is invited to the Senate hearing but he flees to the United States. He claims that his life is in danger because there are attempts to kill him.
 
December 13, 2005—The Senate cites Bolante in contempt for refusing to attend the hearings and orders his arrest.
 
February 15, 2006—US Embassy in Manila writes Bolante telling him that his tourist visa is not valid for travel.
 
March 1, 2006The Senate Committee on Agriculture recommends the filing of plunder charges against Bolante, former Agriculture Secretary Luis Lorenzo and other DA officials. The Senate probe tags Bolante as the mastermind of the scam. The Senate sends a copy of the inquiry report to the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
 
March 20, 2006US Embassy in Manila writes Bolante telling him that his non-immigrant visa has been revoked and is not valid for travel.
 
July 7, 2006—Bolante is arrested by airport authorities in Los Angeles for using a cancelled visa.
 
July 26, 2006—A statement by New People’s Army belies Bolante’s claim that they were plotting to kill him.
 
August 9, 2006—Bolante files a petition for habeas corpus. He claims that the US has no basis holding him and that his visas were improperly revoked.
 
September 2006—The AMLC starts an investigation after Philippine National Bank reported “12 suspicious transaction reports”. (Findings of the AMLC revealed that a firm—Livelihood Corp.—where  Bolante was acting chair transferred P172.6 million to Molugan Foundation Inc and P40 million to Assembly of Gracious Samaritans Foundation, Inc. (AGS). AMLC also found out that Molugan Foundation transferred P38 million to the AGS).

February 9, 2007—A Chicago court denies Bolante’s petition for political asylum. The court says Bolante failed to establish “a well-founded fear of persecution.” (Download the court's decision.)

June 25, 2007—The Board of Immigration Appeals sustains the decision of the Chicago court to deny Bolante’s petition. (Download the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals)

July 3, 2008The Court of Appeals issues a 20-day freeze order for 70 bank accounts listed under Bolante’s name and other personalities linked to the fertilizer scam.

July 8, 2008The CA orders the Anti-Money Laundering Council to submit more evidence linking Bolante to the 70 accounts.

October 22,2008—US Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirms to ABS-CBN that they are preparing to deport Bolante.

October 27,2008—Senate President Manny Villar orders the arrest of Bolante.

October 28, 2008—Bolante arrives from the US. He is whisked to St. Luke’s Medical Center, where he remains confined and placed under hospital arrest. He is guarded by the staff from the Senate sergeant-at-arms.

October 30, 2008—A medical bulletin from the St. Luke’s Medical Center said that Bolante is in “stable” and “normal” condition.

November 3, 2008—Bolante’s son, Owen files before the Court of Appeals a petition for habeas corpus to declare his father’s arrest as unlawful.

November 4, 2008—Bolante withdraws the petition for an injunction and temporary restraining order at the Supreme Court. The withdrawal allows the Senate to proceed with the re-opening of the investigation of the fertilizer scam.

November 7, 2008—A hospital spokesperson says Bolante was diagnosed with sleep problem.

November 10, 2008—Senate allows Bolante to stay at St. Luke’s Medical Center for “humanitarian reasons.

November 12, 2008—Bolante does not appear in the hearing of the House Committee on Food and Agriculture. DA Secretary Arthur Yap, DA undersecretary Belinda Gonzales, former budget secretary Emilia Boncodin are also not present.  At the hearing, officials from the Commission on Audit affirm that there are irregularities in the release of the fund.  The Supreme Court, meanwhile, grants Bolante’s request to withdraw habeas corpus petition.

November 13, 2008—Bolante appears on the Senate for the first time. He clears President Gloria Arroyo, the congressmen and the local officials implicated in the fertilizer fund scam. Bolante also testified that:

* He did not know who nominated or recommended him to be agriculture undersecretary

* Former DA secretary Luis Lorenzo was the one who requested the release of the funds.

* The fertilizer fund is a valid and legal funding approved by the DA and transferred to the regional field units (RFUs).

* He resigned from the DA on August 1, 2004.

* He was not able to attend to the Senate hearings because of his prior commitments abroad.

* Staff from the office of DA Undersecretary Belinda Gonzales told him that 91 percent of the fertilizer funds has been liquidated.

Research by Jesus F. Llanto, abs-cbnNEWS.com/ Newsbreak

 

Sources: Inquirer.net, PCIJ.org, Newsbreak Online and various news reports