The much-anticipated testimony of Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee produced nothing which could pin down the culprits behind the P728 million fertilizer fund scam, to no one’s surprise. After all, he had two weeks in St. Luke’s to prepare for whatever line of questioning the senators might take. Bolante was clearly evasive and lying, as noted even by Malacanang allies like Senator Miriam Santiago, but the slime clinging to him allowed him to easily slip through the senators’ fingers. He was merely handed an opportunity to clear President Macapagal-Arroyo of any involvement in the irregularity and even asserted, to the incredulous reaction of Senator Pimentel who was then questioning him, that he did not know the political affiliations of the government officials who received millions from the purported fertilizer program.
To be fair, as pointed out by the committee chair Alan Cayetano in his opening statement, the Senate is not in a position to prove Bolante guilty but is only tasked to determine the truth. But the truth was the first casualty in yesterday’s farce.
I guess the joke is on us. Serves us right for expecting something other than clever dissembling on the part of Bolante and mostly grandstanding on the part of the senators.
The sidelights proved to be more interesting. Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri inhibiting himself from the inquiry and tearfully protesting the Inquirer portraying him as a “grateful stooge” of the Palace. LOL. Methinks the good senator doth protest overmuch. The continuing animosity brewing beneath the surface of Senators Lacson and Alan Cayetano, whose relationship seems not to have recovered from their tussle over the chairmanship of the Blue Ribbon Committee. While claiming that he was “not casting aspersions and giving any hint of indictment” on Cayetano (then representative of Taguig-Pateros), Lacson pointed out that Cayetano was on the list of fertilizer fund beneficiaries released by the Department of Agriculture dated February 11, 2004. Bolante dubbed as “bogus” the Feb. 11 list of proponents, but recognized another list dated Feb. 3 list since it contained his signature and hologram of the agriculture department. This cleared Cayetano, whose name was not on the earlier list .
Bolante promised to testify further if called upon to do so, but we should lower our expectations so as not to be disappointed again.