Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, September 29, 2006

Bolante claim ‘a snow job’ -- Magsaysay

By TJ Burgonio -- Inquirer

SEN. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. yesterday dismissed Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante’s claim he was detained by US authorities to gain the release of four Americans accused in a rape case in the Philippines, calling it a “desperate” attempt to win his immigration case.

“He’s doing a snow job,” Magsaysay said. He theorized that the former agriculture undersecretary had adopted the tack to muddle his involvement in the alleged use of P728 million in fertilizer funds in the 2004 election of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Magsaysay said Bolante’s case in a Wisconsin court was “exclusively separate” from the trial in a Makati City court of four US Marines accused of raping a 23-year-old Filipino woman at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone last year.

“These two cases should not be put together through speculation and faulty strategy. The issue at hand is corruption,” he said.

“Pure speculation is a sign of desperation. This is a last-ditch attempt to help win his case by putting in all these strenuous issues. He’s doing this to gain leverage. It’s a sign of desperation.”

Bolante, who has been held in the United States since July after his visa was cancelled, had alleged in a motion he filed with the Wisconsin district court that he was being used as a pawn by the US government to gain the release of the Marines.

To support his claim, Bolante submitted a copy of the Sept. 16 Inquirer report on the claim of the victim’s mother that the head of the government prosecution panel had broached the idea of a settlement -- Bolante in exchange for the four US Marines.

Bolante has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. He named US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff as respondents.

Magsaysay is chair of the Senate agriculture committee that inquired into the alleged mismanagement of the P728-million fertilizer fund in the run-up to the 2004 presidential elections. The panel recommended the filing of charges against Bolante for allegedly masterminding the scam.

Large-scale corruption

“His case will rise or fall on how the federal government looks at his alleged involvement in large-scale corruption,” Magsaysay said, pointing out that Bolante’s case was proof of the US government’s seriousness about enforcing its policy of denying safe haven to corrupt officials.

“This concerns not only the Philippines, but other countries as well. That’s why the US has been tough in its no-safe haven policy.”

The senator voiced the hope the voluminous documents he had submitted to the embassy, including his committee’s report, would be seriously considered by the US court.

Also yesterday, Roque said he would challenge the decision of US Judge George Katsivalis on Sept. 13 to hold closed-door hearings on the Bolante case in Wisconsin.

Roque said the US Supreme Court had ruled that immigration proceedings must be open to the public.

“To dispel suspicion that the two governments are cooking up something in this case, the hearings should be held in public,” said Roque.

Roque a hired gun?

Representatives Benasing Macarambon of Lanao del Sur province and Edwin Uy of Isabela province, in a joint press statement, slammed Roque as an opposition “hired gun out to exploit” the Bolante case for political purposes.

Roque has been releasing details of the Bolante case in Wisconsin to reporters in Manila.

“The Philippine government will not compromise its justice system even for the sake of its diplomatic relations,” the lawmakers said. With reports from Juliet Labog-Javellana and Philip


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