Saturday, October 21, 2006

Jocjoc Bolante’s Habeas Corpus Petition Dismissed

The Ombudsman Malditas Gutierrez is still investigating the P728 million fertilizer scam filed by former Solicitor General Frank Chavez and Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr., chairman Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture. The truth is that the case is not moving or gathering dust and cobwebs in the Office of the Ombudsman. Former DA Usec Jocjoc Bolante cannot be extradited without final resolution of the fertilizer scam. Documents from the Commission on Audit showed that more than 100 House of Representatives members, 53 governors and 26 town mayors received between P3 million and P10 million each in fertilizer funds from the Department of Agriculture shortly before the May 2004 elections. What do we expect from Malditas? Is she a part of cover-ups operations?

Wisconsin court summons lawyer Harry Roque to testify in Bolante case

Joc-Joc’s bail junked; now seeks US asylum

Daily Tribune 10/22/2006

For the second time running, President Arroyo’s former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante’s bid for freedom has been denied by the Wisconsin Court and Bolante remains confined at the Kenosha County jail in Wisconsin.
He is now said to be officially seeking political asylum, with Philippine lawyer Harry Roque, who had earlier submitted his amicus brief to the court, which earlier took it in “advisement,” saying that Bolante will have difficulty in proving political persecution while he continues to be protected by President Arroyo.
In a Tribune telephone interview yesterday with Roque who is attending a conference in Sydney, Australia, the lawyer informed the Tribune that he had received an official summons from the US court for him to be present at the hearing of the Bolante case on Nov. 7.
“I will be vigorously opposing his petition for political asylum. For him to claim that the Senate inquiry on the P3 billion fertilizer funds scam is politically motivated and that the charges against Joc-Joc are unfounded would be deemed a “frivolous” excuse in seeking political asylum,” Roque said.
But the lawyer also said he would help Bolante in seeking political asylum in the US and would pose no opposition to it, if the former Agriculture official agrees to a deposition where he will tell all about the fertilizer funds scam where billions of public funds were diverted to the campaign kitty of Mrs. Arroyo and partly used to fatten the campaign chests of her political bets, to ensure that the vote would go to Mrs. Arroyo.
“I will be in the US, in Kenosha county jail a day before the court hearing, at exactly 9 a.m., to await the decision of Joc-Joc on whether he agrees to a deposition or to ignore it. If he agrees to a deposition and tells all, then I will not oppose his petition for political asylum,” Roque said, adding that “I will even testify to the fact that his life will definitely be in danger if he returns home, as he will be facing the wrath of Mrs. Arroyo if he spills the beans. That would certainly be legitimate grounds for political asylum as there will be political persecution on him.”
Thus far, there has been no communication between Bolante and Roque.
In the ruling by District Judge Lynn Adelman, a copy which was furnished the Bolante contends that the inquiry is politically motivated and that any allegations against him are unfounded. He did not respond to the summons but rather traveled to Hong Kong and then to the United States. He arrived in Los Angeles on July 7, 2006, where officers of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) detained him and have since declined to release him on bond.”
Bolante insists that he had a valid US visa, but the ruling also made mention of the fact that a consular officer in the American Embassy in Manila, wrote Bolante twice to inform him that his visa had been canceled.
“A consular officer in Manila to petitioner on Feb. 15, 2006 and March 20, 2006 (advised) him that his visa was no longer valid. The March 20 letter states that ‘as of today your nonimmigrant visa has been revoked under INA § 214(b).’ A nonimmigrant visa is one issued to an alien who intends to remain in the United States indefinitely. INA § 101(a)(15). Petitioner denies receiving either letter. He states that the consul had no reason to believe that he would overstay his visa and no lawful basis for revoking it. He states that his wife remains in the Philippines and that he owns property there. He disputes that the Philippine Senate issued an arrest warrant for him.
“Petitioner states that when he traveled to the United States, he believed he had a valid visitor’s visa; he has since concluded that the government unlawfully revoked that visa. Upon arrival in Los Angeles, petitioner advised DHS that he intended to remain in the United States for two months to discuss the possibility of establishing a trading business, see his dentist and submit his expense report to Rotary International, of which he was the treasurer. DHS advised petitioner that the Philippine Senate had issued an arrest warrant for him and that as a result, the United States consular office in Manila had revoked his visa.
On July 13, 2006, the United States initiated removal proceedings against him.”
It was also stated in the ruling that a consular officer, the Secretary of State or the Secretary’s delegate may revoke a visa. The rule does not limit an officer’s discretion to revoke a visa, but State Department regulations impose guidelines governing revocation.
It was further stated by the judge that with the new laws, “Congress has taken it (jurisdiction) out of my hands.”
It will be recalled that Bolante had impleaded even Condoleeza Rice, but it appears that the Secretary of State is empowered to revoke visas.
“Petitioner argues that the (US) government violated 22 C.F.R. § 41.122(a) by revoking his visa because of a political dispute in the Philippines and that it is therefore detaining him without due process.”
But the judge pointed out that the argument cannot be addressed since she lacks “ subject matter jurisdiction over the case. The legality of petitioner’s detention depends on the resolution of such issues as whether the government lawfully revoked his visa and whether he is removable from the United States and, as indicated, I am precluded from reviewing those issues.
“Further, because the government has initiated removal proceedings and such proceedings are ongoing, the present case is not within the narrow category of cases over which district courts have jurisdiction.
“In addition, I may not review DHS’s refusal to parole petitioner..(and) because I lack jurisdiction to grant a writ, I have no inherent power to grant bail as a means of making the habeas remedy effective.”
The petition for Bolante’s writ of habeas corpus was dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, as was his petition for bail since the DHS refused to grant Bolante bail.
Earlier, the American lawyers of Bolante spoke with the Philippine lawyer in the US, Mary Crost, of the Roque team in the Bolante case, and sought to cut a “one-time” deal between Bolante and Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr, who headed the Senate panel that probed the fertilizer fund scam. The deal failed to push through because Magsaysay refused to agree to it, saying that if Bolante had anything to say, he should say it openly, as the senator insisted on transparency.
Shortly after, the American lawyers again used the Philippine newsclippings that had the mother of an alleged rape victim of an American serviceman and his three colleagues who allegedly cheered him on as the rape took place in a van, saying that an exchange deal was offered the victim: Bolante’s case for the US servicemen’s acquittal. This was used as “proof” that Bolante and his continued detention in the kenosha jail were being used for political ends.
There was doubt, however, that this could stand up in the American court.
The latest move made by Bolante and his lawyers was to ask Magsaysay to make himself available for Bolante’s hearing on Nov. 7 through a teleconference.
Magsaysay thumbed down the Bolante request, saying there was nothing that he could add or subtract to the Senate’s case and the evidence against Bolante lodged before the Ombudsman, but which the Ombudsman has not acted on, despite an earlier complaint on the same fertilizer funds scam issue lodged a year earlier.
The senator wants Bolante to come home and face the music, for him to testify before the Senate, for the arrest warrant to be lifted.
It was noted that the request for Magsaysay’s teleconference presence at the hearing did not come from the judge, but from Bolante.
Roque received a summons from the court, which he said he will honor.
Bolante is believed to be protected by Mrs. Arroyo and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
They have refused to provide any information on Bolante, and would have kept the arrest of the former Arroyo official secret, had his arrest not hit the media.
The DFA officials lamely claimed, two days after his arrest, and two days after the news broke in the media, that their offices were closed, being a holiday and that they could not immediately report on the arrest of Bolante.

Related Links:

Witnesses to Fertilizer Scam: Killed, Hunted

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is the Coddler of Criminals

PAGC still probing Bolante for ‘fertilizer scam’

Milking Cow: Marcos' Recovered Swiss Wealth

P729 Million Fertilizer Scam

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