Cayetano: Joc-joc can’t skip hearing

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — SENATOR Allan Peter Cayetano yesterday said former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante, for whatever reason, won’t be able to wiggle his way out from attending the Senate investigation into the P728-million fertilizer fund scam.

Cayetano, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, said there was “no possible way” that Bolante could skip attending the renewed investigation next week.

Cayetano pointed out that the only way Bolante could evade the hearing is “to revised the 1987 Constitution and abolish the Senate or President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo impeach Senator Manny Villar.”

“The only way Usec. Bolante can escape going to the Senate to testify, either they abolish the Senate via Cha-cha or there is a change in majority in the Senate,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano added that even if the Court of Appeals grants the writ of habeas corpus petition filed by Bolante in order to get away from Senate custody, the Senate can again issue another warrant for his appearance.

Cayetano assured that whatever strategies that Bolante might resort to, including claiming sickness, won’t work.

He said Bolante need not be fully fit to testify before the Senate.

“What we only need is to have a certification from the Senate medical team certifying that Bolante is physically fit to testify,” Cayetano said.

“He doesn’t have to be in tip-top shape, he’s not going to join in marathon or in Olympics, he’s just going to testify before the committee,” he said.

He noted that opposition senators have the numbers to foil any attempt by their administration counterparts to derail the investigation.

“There are more senators who want to get to the bottom of this fertilizer fund scam and there still more senators who want it to be heard,” Cayetano said.

On the other hand, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri yesterday rejected calls by other members of the Lakas party to expel or sanction former House Speaker Jose de Venecia for endorsing the impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“I have nothing against the (former Speaker); intra-party democracy should be allowed,” Zubiri, secretary general of the Lakas party, told Senate reporters yesterday.

Zubiri also cited the recent experience in the United States where losing Republican presidential candidate John McCain was many times heard and seen criticizing American President George Bush.

“Binabanatan (rin) ni John McCain si Bush pero hindi naman tinanggal si McCain sa Republican Party and he eventually ended up as their presidential candidate,” Zubiri pointed out.

“There should be a free-flow of ideas, freedom of ideas within the party,” Zubiri said, adding he was expressing his “personal opinion” and not the party’s stand.