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Sandiganbayan clears Bolante

The Sandiganbayan Second Division has dismissed the plunder case filed against former Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc Joc” Bolante in connection with the P723-million fertilizer fund scam.

In a decision promulgated last November 28, the anti-graft court said that the prosecution failed to provide evidence that will link Bolante to plunder activities, even after giving them the chance to bolster the case through whistleblower Jose Barredo Jr., who was dropped as an accused and presented as a witness.

Former Department of Agriculture Secretary Luis “Cito” Lorenzo, DA Assistant Secretary Ibarra Trinidad C. Poliquit, and private defendants Jaime Paule, Marilyn Araos, Joselito Flordeliza, Marites Aytona, Jose Barredo, and Leonicia Marco-Llarena, were also cleared along with Bolante.

Barredo submitted a 20-page judicial affidavit claiming that he was a runner or who delivered kickbacks to public officials in the fertilizer fund scam. However, the Sandiganbayan found “nothing substantial” in Barredo’s statement.

The Sandiganbayan said that Barredo was only able to testify against the modus operandi of the alleged scheme but not the involvement of Bolante and the other accused officials.

“All that is essentially stated by Barredo is the modus operandi of the scam, the persons who were offered…,” the Sandiganbayan said. “…or had received, and how the “SOP” (Standard Operating Procedure) or commissions were distributed,” it added. (Czarina Nicole O. Ong)