Senate asks DOJ to issue hold departure order vs Paule
The Senate blue ribbon committee has asked the Department of Justice to issue a hold departure order (HDO) against businessman Jaime Paule, one of the alleged conspirators of the P728-million fertilizer fund scam.
Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon, committee chairman, made the request for HDO in a formal letter he sent to Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez aimed to prevent Paule from fleeing the country while he is still under investigation by the Senate.
"We have to request for a hold departure order because we have to make sure that Mr. Paule does not leave the country while he is still under investigation," he said.
Gordon said the committee is taking all necessary actions so as not to give the witnesses a chance to flee from the Senate's probe.
He noted that the Senate had been searching for Paule to testify before the hearings of the blue ribbon and agriculture committees of the 13th Congress, while the blue ribbon committee under his leadership also had a hard time looking for him since there are several other Jimmy Paules in the records of the National Bureau of Investigation
Gordon added that it was through the committee's arrest order that prompted Paule to finally surrender to the Senate last Dec. 23 and testify before the panel yesterday.
The senator explained that Paule has been evasive and testifying falsely during the course of last Tuesday's hearing as proven by the statements of almost all the other witnesses present in the inquiry.
The Senate committee is set to decide today whether to cite Paule in contempt and detain him, along with Marilyn Araos, who were both evasive in answering the panel's questions thrown at them.
"The members of the committee agreed that Paule has been very evasive. It is the same with Araos. So depending on the consensus of the committee members, Paule and Araos may be cited in contempt," Gordon said.
While Paule maintained that he does not know Araos and that he never worked with Marites Aytona for the Department of Agriculture's farm input-farm implement project, the two witnesses testified in contrast.
Araos, the sole signatory in the bank account of Feshan Philippines, said she was ordered by Paule to open a bank account for Feshan Philippines, the biggest supplier in the project, and sign blank checks for the company.
She added that Paule threatened her that she would lose her job if she would refuse to comply with his orders. Araos is a "runner" for the said project for local government units in Regions III and IV, where she gets one percent commission for every transaction.
For her part, Aytona said it was Paule who asked her to make project proposals and was the one giving out instructions on which foundations would be accredited for the project.
Meanwhile, Leonicia Llarena, owner of Dane Publishing, also testified that it was Paule who approached him to seek assistance in issuing checks for the project. Both Llarena and Paule and their respective families had been friends for some time.
Gordon said a case for false testimony could be filed against Paule.
"It is possible that a false testimony case may be filed against him (Paule). Wala siyang pinapakita kundi denial. Ang false testimony pag na-prove yan, makukulong siya," he said.