Not a few were disappointed with the muchawaited turnout of former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante’s appearance today. The fireworks and super-charged sound bites did not come from Bolante, but mostly from lawmakers who are positioning themselves for higher office in 2010.
But who could believe Bolante at this point? Even if he has finally been able to speak now, his actions over the past two years spoke louder than his words today.
Bolante says it was never his intention to snub the Senate and he was not hiding anything. He even said that he had prior commitments abroad, which explained his snub of the first hearing by the Senate Committee on Agriculture. But who could believe this, considering he had left just before the hearing back then?
He has cleared President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of any wrongdoing. No surprise there. But his claim that the Fertilizer Fund only required the nod of the Department of Agriculture and ultimately the Department of Budget falls short.
Bolante says that there are papers to prove that the fund was legal. But given how sophisticated corruption in this country has become, can we rely on (doctored) papers alone? For once, I agree with Sen. Loren Legarda’s assertion that clean documents prove a clean government initiative. But the courts and lawmakers will need to go deeper than asserting their points for a coveted 10-second sound bite on primetime TV.
Bolante would need to explain in detail and counter the list of Congressmen, Governors, and even Mayors who received funding. He was not able to explain why some Metro Manila politicos, who govern in terrirtories with no farm lands, received funding.
Which is why I would at least believe Bolante’s claim that his life under threat. If he were to spill the really beans, we might just see the collapse of the entire traditional, rotten political system as we know it (hmmm… won’t that be good?). Too many names have been involved.
Having said this, attention should not be limited solely on whether the President is indeed the ultimate mastermind of the scam. Let’s not forget to hold accountable the politicians listed as alleged recipients of the scam — some of which, based on the list provided by Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, are now with the opposition (or pretending to be opposition to cover up?)
All things considered, I am not only disappointed with the non-revelations of Bolante, but also with the method of questioning by some of the lawmakers. Unlike Sen. Miriam Santiago, the questioning of some of her ambitious colleagues is giving me a heart attack. Some solons were just asking to be a sound bite on primetime news. Surely, ordinary college graduates can ask more intelligent questions and assertions.
Sure, the President is a micro-manager, as Sen. Mar Roxas claims. But I would not base my judgments on such as thing as rubbing elbows with the President in the past.
In any case, while we trust that the People can read through Bolante, they can also read between the lines of politicos who are just hungry for airtime. Let the focus now be on prosecuting all those who are guilty of the scam — and also calling to the Senate the other personalities from the Department of Agriculture.