Press Release
July 19, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today demanded an end to the news blackout being enforced by the government on the arrest and detention of former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante in the United States in the face of conflicting and confusing reports about his situation.

Pimentel expressed dismay over the explanation of the Department of Foreign Affairs that it could not furnish the media with details of Bolantes apprehension by US immigration and customs authorities supposedly in deference to the request of his family to keep this a private matter.

He said the information about the Bolante affair should not be concealed because he is facing a Senate/Ombudsman investigation on his lead role in the misuse of more than P1 billion fertilizer fund before the May, 2004 elections.

When anyone gets his dirty hand into the public funds intended for the farmers of the country, that is not a private matter, Pimentel said.

Hence, Bolante cannot invoke his right to privacy here. Public interests demand that everything regarding the whereabouts of Bolante and the reasons why he is being detained in a criminal holding facility should be made public.

The minority leader said it is the responsibility of the government to keep tab of the Bolante case in the US and to provide the public with accurate and factual information about situation.

Otherwise, the temptation to believe that a coverup is being made to shield Bolante who is wanted in the country, particularly by the Senate, is hard to resist, he said.

Due to the apparent gag order imposed on the DFA, there has been a lot of speculation about the reasons for Bolantes arrest.

Pimentel noted that even the US embassy in Manila has been very evasive in responding to media inquiries about the Bolante case despite reports that it was the embassy that recommended the cancellation of his US travel visa.

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