FORMER Agriculture Secretary Luis "Cito" Lorenzo and DA Undersecretary Jocelyn "Joc-Joc" Bolante were no-shows in yesterday’s Senate hearing into the alleged diversion of P728 million in fertilizer funds into the 2004 presidential campaign kitty of President Arroyo.
Senate President Franklin Drilon and Sen. Ramon Magsaysay, chairman of the Senate committee on food and agriculture, tasked the immigration bureau to place the two officials under its watch list following their departure before dawn yesterday.
Bolante’s counsel, Antonio Zulueta, said his client "will be out of the country to attend to prior commitments involving matters of equal importance that had been scheduled long before the subpoena was issued."
But information reaching the senators said Bolante left for Los Angeles, California, only at 12:30 a.m. yesterday aboard Philippine Airlines flight 102. His original flight schedule was 10:40 p.m. Tuesday.
Magsaysay said Lorenzo left on the same flight but other reports claimed Lorenzo left yesterday afternoon while the Senate hearing was ongoing.
No explanation was given to the committee for Lorenzo’s absence.
"Both (Bolante and Lorenzo) have chosen the path to being fugitives from truth and justice. They have besmirched their reputations when in fact they could have both clarified their roles in DA’s flawed program to help the country’s millions of farmers. Bolante and Lorenzo showed their fear of testifying to clarify their participation in the alleged misuse of taxpayers’ money," Magsaysay said in his opening statement.
Dean Jorge Bocobo comments.
-- Opposition i-ban sa simbahan!
Hindi papayagan ng Malacañang na makapagsimba bukas sa kalapit na St. Jude Parish Church ang oposisyon dahil kumilos na umano ito para kausapin ang ilang namamahala sa nabanggit na simbahan na huwag nang ituloy ang misa sa kapistahan ng patron para hindi na rin makadalo rito ang mga kritiko ng pamahalaan.
Kahapon ay umikot ang mga ulat na nakipagpulong na umano ang Presidential Security Group (PSG) sa mga opisyal ng St. Jude Parish para ipaabot ang nais ng palasyo na huwag nang magmisa sa kapistahan ng patron.
Bunga nito, tahasang inihayag ng ilang lider ng Simbahang Katoliko na 'paranoid' na ang palasyo sa pagsikil sa oposisyon at pagbabawal na makadalo ang mga ito sa banal na misa.
Sa panayam ng Abante kay Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, sinabi nitong malinaw na ang naturang hakbang ng palasyo ay isang patunay na "paranoid" at napapraning na nga ang Pangulo dahil maging ang isang lehitimong religious activity ay pinaghihinalaan na rin nitong gagamitin laban sa kanya ng oposisyon.
-- Why did the senate release Norberto Gonzalez eh wala naman siyang balak na magpa-opera?
The truth is, in all that time of detention and Gonzales' propaganda about his serious heart condition, he kept resisting a heart bypass, despite his doctors' suggestion. But it was also clear that he wanted to leave the hospital premises, and not to have surgery in Sweden or any place abroad. He just wanted to be back in Malacañang.
It is fact that his doctor, in a TV interview, stated Gonzales told him he does not want to have heart surgery but has to be out of the hospital because “something big is going to happen.”
Considering his mindset on coups and destabilization attempts, this could be translated to mean that he has to be around if and when the expected action starts. Is this the reason the administration senators gave in to Malacañang?
Read the whole thing.
-- "Gloria Quit" campaign signature launched
AN alliance of Church-based and advocacy groups yesterday launched a campaign to collect a million signatures to press for the resignation of President Arroyo.
The "Resign Immediately Peke (RIP)" campaign is spearheaded by the Kilusang Makabansang Ekonomiya (KME), the People’s Assembly for Genuine Alternative against Social Apathy (Pag-asa) and the Gomburza, under the umbrella group Alliance of the Non-Aligned (ANA).
ANA members said they would bring the signature drive to the provinces through parishes.
Where do I sign up?
-- Manong Ernie talks about FVR's Sixth sense:
I am beginning to like FVR's sense of timing in reading the wind directions in politics.
In Edsa I, FVR was the last to join the Enrile/Honasan breakaway revolt, thus sealing late strongman Ferdinand Marcos' fate.
In Edsa II, he arrived from abroad when the gathering at the Edsa Shrine was at its peak and then conducted an impromptu run from the airport to the Edsa Shrine, thus sealing Joseph Estrada's fate.
This late five-year struggle against GMA, FVR has finally seen the light and has joined the calls for GMA and Noli de Castro to resign or to shorten their term so that snap elections could be held.
His actions have been calibrated like the West Point graduate that he is.
Will FVR's breakaway from GMA now serve to motivate a military faction to withdraw support from GMA? Will Gen. Angelo Reyes move? Will Sonny Alvarez and Lakas loyalists now join Teofisto Guingona Jr.? Probably.
It's twisting in the wind. As Fr. Larry Faraon said “Nagawa na ng tao ang lahat. Diyos na ang kikilos.” Let's continue to pray.
Good tactic. An opposition coalition, the Bukluran ng Katotohanan, has announced the calling of a Citizens Congress for Truth and Accountability to hear evidence on the three of the five charges against GMA which were rejected by the House of Representatives.
The fact is clear that the amended impeachment complaint filed by 42 members of the House was dismissed on procedural and technical grounds. There was no actual hearing of evidence to support the charges.
The Citizens Congress to be headed by former Senator and Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. provides a forum for the evidence to be presented.
Malacañang will, of course, refuse to participate in the hearings on legal and technical grounds. But this is not a legal battlefield. It is a battle for truth, for the minds of the people. And of course, for historical records.
How much further damage it will inflict on the Macapagal name depends on what evidence is presented.
For example, if a Commission on Elections official who did indeed go to the La Vista home of the Arroyos to receive money testifies, that would be very damaging indeed.
It's worth watching how this Citizens Congress will unfold.
While it is not legally a court of law, it is a court of public opinion.