Wednesday, October 29, 2008

US deports controversial ex-Arroyo official in fertilizer scam allegations

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 29, 2008) – Former Philippine Agriculture deputy chief Jocelyn Bolante, who was jailed for almost two years in the United States for immigration violations, arrived in Manila and was rushed to hospital after complaining of chest pains.

Bolante, who arrived late Tuesday onboard the Northwest Airlines Flight 71, is being guarded at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City. Bolante is being accused of channeling more than P728 million in fertilizer fund to the President Gloria Arroyo’s election campaign in 2004.

He fled to the US before the Philippine Senate could begin to investigate the allegations, one of many corruption scandals that rocked the Arroyo administration. The Senate ordered his arrest in 2005.

The US immigration authorities did not report any medical conditions about Bolante before he was deported, but critics of the former government official accused him of trying to “buy time” to evade the Senate investigation.

Bolante, who previously claimed his life was under threat in the Philippines, had sought political asylum in the US, but this was rejected. Bolante denied all the charges against him.

Previous government officials involved in corruption scandals had also in the past suddenly fell sick, especially each time they face Senate investigations and would spend weeks in hospital to avoid the probe. Some ignored the Senate investigations by invoking a Presidential order banning them to speak about corruption allegations involving Arroyo.

Many Filipinos looked at Arroyo, herself accused of many corruption scandals by the opposition, as the worst president after the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Arroyo, who grabbed power in 2001 in a bloodless coup that toppled President Joseph Estrada, denied all accusations against her. (Mindanao Examiner)

No comments: