IT’S already strike three for former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn ‘Joc-Joc’ Bolante in his legal battle seeking political asylum in the U.S. This is after the U.S. Court of Appeals recently denied his petition for asylum, upholding the earlier decisions handed down by the immigration court and immigration appeals board in Chicago.

Jocelyn 'Joc-joc' Bolante [photo courtesy of Rotary website]Bolante, who is accused of masterminding the P728-million fertilizer fund scam allegedly diverted to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidential campaign in 2004, filed a petition for a review of his case with the federal appellate court in July 2007 following the Chicago Board of Immigration Appeals’ denial of his claim for asylum and withholding of removal (deportation) from the U.S. under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) in June last year.

The appeals board upheld the ruling of the Chicago Immigration Court which dismissed Bolante’s asylum request on the ground that he was suffering from a “genuine fear of political persecution.”

Read the U.S. Court of Appeals decision.

In affirming the decision of the Chicago immigration court and appeals board, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit said Bolante “has not demonstrated a well-founded fear of persecution upon returning to the Philippines.”

The Court further said: “We agree with the (Immigration Judge’s) decision that Bolante’s fear of persecution is objectively unreasonable. Bolante has not produced enough specifics or details about the fear of persecution that he faces in the Philippines to carry his burden…It is by no means a stretch to suggest that the core of Bolante’s fear is, in fact, a fear of prosecution for his alleged role in a corruption scandal.”

Regardless of whether the prosecution would be of a political nature or legitimately related to graft and corruption, the Court said that if Bolante “concurrently acted to further a scheme to defraud the Philippine public trust and divert funds to a political campaign — activity that would certainly be illegal under our own laws — then facing prosecution for his acts would not be grounds for asylum.”
The same court also denied Bolante’s petition for bail while awaiting its ruling on his asylum petition. Since he was not lawfully admitted to the U.S. owing to a revoked visa, Bolante, the court ruled, had no right to be released.

“This is the end of the line for the fugitive and the most notorious presidential friend, Joc-Joc Bolante,” said University of the Philippines law professor Harry Roque.

While Bolante can still appeal his case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Roque is certain how “highly unlikely” it would be for the highest court of the U.S. to overturn the denials by the Chicago Immigration Court, the Board of Immigration Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Roque filed an amicus brief along with fellow UP law professors Merlin Magallona and Raul Pangalangan in August 2006 in an effort to convince the immigration court not to grant Bolante’s request for political asylum.

Bolante has been in detention since his arrest on July 7, 2006 upon arriving in Los Angeles owing to a cancelled visa. He was told by a U.S. immigration officer that the U.S. Embassy in Manila revoked his B1/B2 visa in light of the arrest warrant issued by the Senate for his role in the fund scam.

For further background on Bolante’s immigration case, see also:

1 Response to U.S. Court of Appeals rejects Bolante asylum petition


The Daily PCIJ » Blog Archive » Congress urged to cut wasteful, frivolous spending in 2009 budget

October 15th, 2008 at 10:37 pm

[…] Early into the years of the Arroyo presidency, there were lingering suspicions and allegations that lump-sum funds in the DA ended up into the campaign kitties of favored candidates of the administration in the 2004 elections. And who has not heard about the P729-million fertilizer scam and Jocelyn ‘Joc-Joc’ Bolante? […]

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