Bolante Testimony a Sick Joke

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.

3 thoughts on “Bolante Testimony a Sick Joke”

  1. The Joc-Joc testimony joke as well as the entire Joc-Joc Bolante-Gloria Macapagal-Mike Arroyo joke on the Philippines are sickening in the extreme.

  2. …On February 9, 2007, the Immigration Judge (“IJ”) denied Bolante’s application for asylum. The IJ found that, though Bolante was credible, he failed to meet his burden of past persecution or well-founded fear of future persecution. The judge noted that the vague threats and opaque predictions of harm were insufficient to establish Bolante’s claim. The judge further found that the Senate Committee, by issuing the subpoena and warrant, sought to investigate and eventually prosecute Bolante for a violation of the Philippine law, and not persecute him on account of political opinion or membership in a particular social group. In addition, the IJ held that because Bolante failed to meet the lower burden of proof of asylum, he could not meet the higher standard for with-holding of removal. On June 25, 2007, the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) affirmed the IJ’s decision and issued its own decision and order. This timely appeal followed…

    …Unless a petitioner establishes past persecution—and Bolante has abandoned on appeal his claim that he was persecuted in the past—a petitioner must show that the fear of future persecution is subjectively genuine and objectively reasonable. Ahmed v. Gonzales, 467 F.3d 669, 674 (7th Cir. 2006). The “subjective” component rests primarily on the applicant’s testimony and the credibility of that testimony. Capric v. Ashcroft, 355 F.3d 1075, 1085 (7th Cir. 2004). The IJ found Bolante’s testimony to be credible, which satisfied the subjective element. We will not disturb this finding. The “objective” component may be established “either through the production of specific documentary evidence or by credible and persuasive testimony.” Gjerazi v. Gonzanles, 435 F.3d 800, 808 (7th Cir. 2006) (citation and internal quotation omitted). An asylum applicant must “present specific, detailed facts showing a good reason to fear that he or she will be singled out for persecution.” Ahmed v. Ashcroft, 348 F.3d 611, 618 (7th Cir. 2003) (emphasis in original) (quoting Sayaxing v. INS, 179 F.3d 515, 520 (7th Cir. 1999)).

    We agree with the IJ’s decision that Bolante’s fear of persecution is objectively unreasonable. Bolante has not produced enough specifics or details about the fear of persecution that he faces in the Philippines to carry his burden. The threats to Bolante’s son and family do not identify the source of the threat and do not indicate that they are motivated by any animus towards Bolante. The testimony of Montes and Estrada that Bolante would be in danger upon return also fails for lack of specificity, particularity, or substantiality. Bolante points to the bounty as support for his fear, but the details of the bounty, and the use of bounties in the Philippines in general, lack any real clarity. Even if the bounty still exists, it does not show any threat of long-term harm to Bolante; the sole purpose of the bounty is to secure Bolante’s testimony before the Senate Committee.

    It is by no means a stretch to suggest that the core of Bolante’s fear is, in fact, a fear of prosecution for his alleged role in a corruption scandal. Though prosecution can become persecution, courts uniformly recognize that a foreign state’s prosecution of its citizens for violating its own laws does not automatically equate with persecution. See, e.g., Guchshenkov v. Ashcroft, 366 F.3d 554, 559 (7th Cir. 2004); Shardar v. Ashcroft, 382 F.3d 318, 323 (3d Cir. 2004); Bandari v. I.N.S., 227 F.3d 1160, 1168-69 (9th Cir. 2000). We have held that “prosecution for activities that would be illegal under our own laws is not grounds for asylum.” Guchshenkov, 366 F.3d at 559. Similarly, being suspected of a crime does not necessarily render an asylum applicant eligible for asylum. See Djouma v. Gonzales, 429 F.3d 685, 688 (7th Cir. 2005).

    The difficulty lies in how to fashion the nature of the potential prosecution against Bolante—that is, whether the prosecution of the Senate Committee would be of a political nature or legitimately related to graft or corruption. Bolante may be correct that he is but a pawn in the opposition party’s efforts to oust President Arroyo. But if he concurrently acted to further a scheme to defraud the Philippine public trust and divert funds to a political campaign—activity that would certainly be illegal under our own laws—then facing prosecution for his acts would not be grounds for asylum.

    A more fundamental problem for Bolante is that he does not presently face prosecution. No charges have been filed against him, and although the Senate Committee has recommended charges against Bolante, they have also recommended charges against Montes, who has yet to face prosecution. Other members of President Arroyo’s government, including Montes, have testified before the Senate Committee on the Fertilizer Scam and have not been physically harmed or unjustly prosecuted.

    In short, the record does not establish that any harm will come to Bolante on his return; it is not even certain that he will face arrest or have to testify before the Senate Committee, given that Bolante has contested the validity of both…

    JOCELYN I. BOLANTE, Petitioner v. MICHAEL B. MUKASEY, Attorney General of the United States, Respondent. No. 07-2550. United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

    bolante’s stints in loyola life and prudential earned and served him well. a very cool (or more accurately, seasoned) liar that he is, even the US immigration judge found him to be credible.

    yesterday, he was mouthing the above US court findings when asked by Kiko Pangilinan.

    yes, he was credible indeed…a very credible LIAR!

  3. It was so underwhelming. It failed to live up to the hype. But it was really the shortcomings of the senators whose questions were not probing enough. Any con man who can pulloff a P728 million “project” out of the national coffers can answer far far tougher questions than what the senators threw at Bolante.

    The seriousness of the hearing was even diminished when some senators squealed and sighed and just appeared to try to elicit laughter from the gallery. The Warrior Lawyer is right. It was mostly grandstanding on the part of the senators. And I might just add, senators who are apparently unware that they’ve just been had and probably under the illusion that they did a great public service with that hearing. They’re wrong.

    The senators only succeeded in displaying too much incompetence. They just wasted their time and public funds. Its only Bolante who had the greatest time of his life. He made “pusoy” the senators when he was given the opportunity by Senator Roxas to clear GMA of any misdeed. I thought that question was one of the greatest senatorial blunder and a turning point that marked the uselessness of that whole hearing. Not only did the question assume facts (i.e. that Gloria authorized and knew the release of the funds and furthermore knew and authorized the release of the funds for her election purposes), it was also obviously made to score a political point. An alert partisan like Bolante could easily see through that and sure enough gave an answer that thoroughly frustrated the questioner’s purpose. Instead of implicating GMA Bolante cleared her completely. Senator Roxas was probably expecting a bombshell. He got a stinking dud instead. Its really frustrating for me to see that because Senator Roxas is one of the few senators who I believe has the interest of the people genuinely at heart.

    Bolante won big. He was allowed to go home. The biggest loser, as usual, are the Filipino people, who, once again, are left with an empty bag. The biggest winner in the whole episode is Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who, publicly perceived as being guilty as hell, once again dodge the political wrecking ball because of sheer lack of simple and creative investigative skills by our senators. This hearing proved that lie is not the only enemy of truth. Incompetence is also an enemy of truth.

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