Len Olea’s Blog

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Posted by lenolea on November 17, 2008

What is the price of truth?

Nilo Arado, secretary general of local peasant group Pahagpong sa mga Mag-uuma sa Panay and regional chair of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Panay, testified during a Senate investigation, Nov. 17, 2005, that farmers in the island never received fertilizer subsidies supposedly released by the Department of Agriculture.

On April 12, 2007, Arado was abducted by suspected state agents in Oton town of Iloilo. He remains missing to this day.

Ofelia Rodriguez, a resident of Barangay Divisoria in Mexico, Pampanga, appeared on ABS-CBN’s investigative program Probe Team on August 25, 2005. Like Arado, Rodriguez said they never received any fertilizer subsidies.

After her appearance on television, Rodriguez had been invited several times by the Philippine Army’s 69th Infantry Battalion. On October 25 of the same year, a certain 2nd Lt. John Paul Nicolas pressured Rodriguez into admitting she is a member of the New People’s Army (NPA). Barely three months later, on January 16, 2006, a lone gunman entered Rodriquez’ house and shot her in the head.

Other witnesses to the P728-million fertilizer fund scam have been facing threats on their lives.

Danilo Ramos, secretary general of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Joseph Canlas, regional chairperson of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) could no longer go home. For security reasons, they constantly change their routes and routines. Suspected intelligence agents tail them relentlessly.

Who could forget Marlene Garcia Esperat, a journalist who also exposed the fertilizer scam? Esperat was shot dead in her home in front of her ten-year-old daughter by two gunmen on March 24, 2005 in Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat.

Recently, the Office of the Ombudsman junked the case filed by Esperat in 2004 against Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante, and other officials over the illegal use of public funds.

And what is the truth for Joc-Joc Bolante?

During the Senate inquiry, the alleged architect of the fertilizer scam said 91 percent of the P728 million has been liquidated by program implementors.

He also said that no fund was released before the May 2004 presidential elections.

Joc-Joc also said there were threats on his life when he was in the United States.

Joc-Joc also said that Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is not and has not been involved in the fertilizer and farm tool program Ginintuang Masagana Ani (GMA).

If Joc-Joc were to tell the truth, his former boss could be driven out of Malacañang.

If there were no suppression of truth, if there were no cover-ups committed by those who wish to get away with their crimes, then Arado, Rodriquez, Esperat and many others need not have suffered dearly in the name of truth.

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