Yap not involved, says Bolante

Posted at 11/18/08 3:31 PM

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap had nothing to do with the implementation of the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn "Jocjoc" Bolante said Tuesday.

"The most recent misinformation is the report for the TV, radio, print media, that I accused secretary Arthur Yap of being responsible for the implementation of the P728-million farm inputs and farm implement funds in 2004. I would like to clarify that I never said so," Bolante said in his opening statement before the House agriculture committee.

Bolante clarified his Senate testimony that the implementation of the fund's distribution was coursed through the DA's field operations office, which in turn, failed to report to him for checks and balance. He said he was unaware of Yap's alleged involvement until Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Alan Peter Cayetano reminded him of it.

"I never knew it. I could hardly recall what happened three years ago. And besides, the designation of then undersecretary Yap was for a very short period of time," he said.

Bolante also cleared all congressmen, governors, and mayors who were part of the list attached to the special allotment release order (SARO), saying that they were wrongfully accused of being part of the fertilizer fund scam.

"Not a single centavo was released to the congressmen, governors, or mayors. I repeat, not a single centavo was released to the congressmen, governors, or mayors," he said.

Bolante also said that President Arroyo was not involved.

Meanwhile, Bolante called on the House committee on agriculture to let the pertinent documents be shown in order to "reasonably guide" them to understand the truth.

"Please do not impose upon me your interpretation of the truth that has been set in your minds. If I am to say only things that you want me to hear, then you are asking me to lie," he said.

Bolante added that the amount should not, in the first place, be related solely to fertilizer fund but rather, for "farm inputs and farm implements."

He said the amount used in the project was the DA's savings from the 2003 national budget allocation. He said the fund was supposed to be used for rice, corn and other high value crops.

It was the second time Bolante cleared Mrs. Arroyo's name in the fertilizer fund scam.

In his first appearance before a Senate inquiry last week, Bolante said the funds were released without the approval of Mrs. Arroyo.

"President Arroyo is not and has not been involved in this kind of project," Bolante told the Senate Blue-Ribbon Committee last week.