JOCELYN ‘JocJoc’ Bolante, the former agriculture undersecretary implicated in the diversion of P728 million in Department of Agriculture funds for the 2004 election campaign of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was arrested and being detained by United States immigration authorities after he arrived in Los Angeles last July 7 using a cancelled business visa.

Jocelyn 'Joc-joc' Bolante [photo courtesy of Rotary website]Bolante has been out of the country since late last year, departing for the US on December 11 in what was seen as an attempt to evade investigation by the Senate in connection with the disbursement of millions in fertilizer funds to mayors, governors and congressmen, 95 percent of whom are known Arroyo political allies. The funds were released a week before the start of the campaign period for the May 2004 presidential elections. Another P1.1 billion was released a day after.

Despite repeated subpoenas for him to testify, Bolante snubbed the hearings conducted by the Senate, claiming that he had to be away to deal with his functions as director of Rotary International. The Senate subsequently cited him for contempt and issued a warrant for his arrest.

At one point, some of his fellow Rotary Club officers and members were so aghast at his refusal to face the music and even wrote open letters to urge him to come out and tell the truth behind the fertilizer funds scam, but to no avail.

A close friend of First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo and his fellow Makati Rotarian, he was named DA undersecretary for finance and administration shortly after Arroyo took over the presidency from the ousted Joseph Estrada in 2001.

In a 41-page report on their joint investigation, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and the Committee on Agriculture and Food recommended that Bolante, a close confidante of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, along with other top DA officials — former secretary Luis Lorenzo, former undersecretary Ibarra Poliquit (now vice president of the Government Service Insurance System), Undersecretary Belinda Gonzales, and Assistant Secretary Jose Felix Montes — be charged with plunder for their roles in the fertilizer funds scam.

The committees also recommended the filing of charges against all the DA’s regional directors who participated in the illegal transactions of the P728-million fertilizer fund scam. At the same time, they held Arroyo accountable for the mismanagement of the said fund after testimonies showed that it “was indeed used to assure her victory in the 2004 elections.”

“To this date, no effort on her part has been made, no categorical denial was even heard but all allegations and testimonies point to her benefiting the most in an intricate scheme of deception and fraud,” the report said.

The PCIJ also reported last year that the DA released nearly P3 billion during the 2004 campaign supposedly meant for fertilizer and other farm implements for the country’s farmersunder the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) program, but which was diverted to non-government organizations, obscure private foundations and companies that were identified as beneficiaries by the proponent congressmen, governors and mayors.

In filing plunder charges against Arroyo for alleging using the fertilizer fundd for election purposes, former solicitor general Frank Chavez likewise pointed to Bolante as the architect of an intricate modus operandi that provided a fund sharing scheme of 25 percent for the local government proponents, 25 percent for “runners,” 30 percent for politicians, and 20 percent for suppliers.

A month after the release of the Senate report, the Commission on Audit also came out with its final report on the funds scam. While confining itself to procedural examination of the disbursement, liquidation and auditing of the P728-million fertilizer funds, the government auditing agency found that it was Bolante who decided on the list of fertilizer fund recipients: 103 congressmen, 49 governors and 26 mayors.
The COA report also listed several NGOs and political organizations as recipients or conduits of the fund. However, it omitted the fact that some of these groups had direct links to public officials — which, a COA source said, was the “smoking gun” that could have shed light on how the fund was distributed and used.

Of the system the DA used to “download” the funds to LGUs and NGOs and then to suppliers, the COA said:

“(It) went (through) a circuitous route thus resulting in fragmented accountability. In addition, there was a weak monitoring of liquidation and accomplishment reports. Consequently, the fund could not be fully accounted for, not to mention specific instances of irregularities found in the course of the audit.”

32 Responses to Bolante finally falls, but not for fertilizer funds scam

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Global News Blog » Latin America - ‘New socialism’ path uncertain

July 12th, 2006 at 7:37 pm

[…] Bolante finally falls, but not for fertilizer funds scamPhilippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Philippines – 35 minutes ago… so it’s still a thing to watch.. jr_lad : naykika, but it seems the elites in venezuela w/ the help of the US cannot dispose of hugo chavez. … […]

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ryebosco

July 12th, 2006 at 9:34 pm

BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY!!!!!

Is it possible that the Arroyo administration was behind the abolition of ‘plunder punishable by death’ so they can get away with lying, stealing and murderer?

I HAVE A DREAM by Martin Lutang Kung

“When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every squatter, from every province and every barrio, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the frustrated Filipinos, “Killed at last! Killed at last! thank God Almighty, they are killed at last!”

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naykika

July 12th, 2006 at 10:02 pm

Never, never ever let Bolante back in the Philippines, because like most everyone before him, he’ll just grin and walk away smiling from all his alleged crimes and thievery once the Philippines justice System got hold of Him. Let him rot in detention in U.S., at least he won’t get to enjoy the “loot” like the Marcosses and who else? too many to mention here..

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Tom

July 13th, 2006 at 5:30 am

To Jocjoc: Buti nga sa yo.

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Phil Cruz

July 13th, 2006 at 6:11 am

Gads! The guy is a deadringer of Big Mike.

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Global News Blog » Latin America - Venezuelan Diplomat: North Korea Has a Right to Test Missiles

July 13th, 2006 at 7:13 am

[…] Bolante finally falls, but not for fertilizer funds scamPhilippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Philippines – 12 hours ago… so it’s still a thing to watch.. jr_lad : naykika, but it seems the elites in venezuela w/ the help of the US cannot dispose of hugo chavez. … […]

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baycas

July 13th, 2006 at 7:47 am

anagramatically speaking, what is notable is that some rotarians already told bolante to face the music…

how about the agustinians (from Iloilo’s University of San Agustin)? what can they say about their fellow alumnus? dr. asuncion l. faro even wrote about him as an Agustinian Achiever…one of the many One-of-a-Kind-Alumni.

well, agustinians, the joke‘s on you too!

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joselu

July 13th, 2006 at 1:27 pm

The truth is nobody really knows why Bolantes business visa was cancelled.
Actually we all won’t know till next week.
Another truth is that there is no warrant for his arrest in Manila.
There is as always a lot of noise & forever speculation & surely the opposition desperate to exploit anything.
Seems like the Ombudsman has not finished investigating his case yet.
That is why I’m woundering why all the fuzz.
Escudero is even spinning a “political assylum” story w/c is next to fantastic.
Perhaps, as always, certain people are putting their hopes in the wrong things for the wrong reasons.
If it’s just a visa matter, all the States can do is deport the person.
To detain him can also be part of the States paranoid security measures due to terrorisim.

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Toro

July 13th, 2006 at 4:30 pm

Ikaw naman Joselu, talagang mapagbiro. Exploiting ba naman iyong harapin ni Bolante ang mga paratang sa kanya dito. Forget Escudero’s spins at naghahanda kasi yon para sa senado. The problem nga, Joselu, kahit na Senate hindi siya maimbistiga kasi tago ng tago. Oo nga visa violation lang ang kaso kaya dapat i-deport na lang sa Pilipinas at hindi na extradition pa. Matagal ang extradition dadaan pa yan sa State Dept. tapos paguusapan pa, may mga formal diplomatic exchanges pa, samantala kung deportation ang bilis. The US Immigration can decide right then and there that an immigration law has been violated and voila, posas agad, sakay sa next flight to Manila.

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joselu

July 13th, 2006 at 7:02 pm

Toro, by exploiting I mean using the media milleage to hype up the story.
Bolante will sooner or later come back to Manila.
My point is however, for now we have to find out first what is his real problem w/ the IRS that insted of being deported for a visa problem he was detained.
The States detained him for their reasons.Their reasons are different from ours.
I’m just looking at the matter in an unemotional way.

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Huseng Bulag

July 13th, 2006 at 8:48 pm

Toro, just do what everybody else is doing here. Ignore him completely and you’ll feel better.

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jr_lad

July 13th, 2006 at 9:45 pm

ano kaya ibig sabihin ni joselu na using the media milleage to hype up the story? w/o the media ba malalalaman kung nahuli si bolante? too quick to point his/her finger on the opposition. kahit na galing pa sa malacanang ang report through media pa rin malalaman ng tao yun. at ang report lang hinuli dahil sa cancelled na business visa. wala namang dinagdag or anumang speculation like sabi niyang baka part of the States paranoid security measures due to terrorisim. ikaw nga etong mabilis mag-ispeculate at mabilis dumepensa.

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Ambuot Saimo

July 13th, 2006 at 10:14 pm

Yeah!!! If it turns out that Bolante has no pending warrant of arrest aside from that senate contempt thing, there is indeed a problem holding him if he’s deported back to Pinas. It’s better he remain in US custody while charges are being proffered against him. Why the Ombudsman did not file charges despite the mounting evidence is beyond understanding. By the way, who appoints the Ombudsman?

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Chabeli

July 13th, 2006 at 10:36 pm

Why does this Joselu even join this blog? Ditto to Huseng Bulag–ignore the wanna-be!

What our government officials can’t do, the U.S. did for us. Thank God! I guess we do have an abnormal would-be president, with a brain the size of her height–a pigmy!

By the way, what happened to Cito Lorenzo?????

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Rizalist

July 13th, 2006 at 10:39 pm

TextMsg has it that JDV and Gen. Esperon met with US Ambassador, clearly concerned. The intriguing possibility is that the US is holding him for more than immigration violations, but having to do with money laundering. That could actually delay his return here. I’m torn between the knowledge that he will likely be punished in the US if he is guilty of some crime, and the desire to bring him back…where he could get away…just like Garci…

But yeah…Bring back the death penalty!

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baycas

July 13th, 2006 at 11:26 pm

yes, joc-joc was once on top in this editorial cartoon (a reminder to us by mlq3). i wish we can likewise see him in another cartoon…now that he’s at the bottom (or aptly, behind bars).

why the visa cancellation? two words: pirated disc.

…gen. lim’s video is now a hot item in LA…during the flight to LA, the attendant had a glimpsed of the fake dvd in joc-joc’s carry-on.

why the huge amount for a mere visa cancellation? two words: ammonium nitrate.

…joc-joc reportedly stashed too much ammonium nitrate from the fertilizer that the paranoid americans thought he’ll bomb the LAX.

why request for a political asylum? two words: big mike.

…joc-joc’s now on big mike’s hit list…and you think he seeks refuge from the opposition? naah!

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baycas

July 13th, 2006 at 11:30 pm

failed to type…three words:

why the huge amount for bail bond for a mere visa cancellation?

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naykika

July 14th, 2006 at 1:09 am

Remind us of how the secret service (treasury dept.) nailed the infamous Al Capone, not for his violent crimes but for tax evasion. Visa expiration=tax evasion. One way or another, that stink will eventually surface and it doesn’t look good at all..

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tongue in, anew

July 14th, 2006 at 8:34 am

Baycas, let me share my anagrams of “Jocelyn Bolante”:

Enjoy. Bolt clean!
Cajole only bent.
Jolly been to can.
Yo! Job ‘n’ neat cell.
Enjoy cell on tab.
Can’t one be jolly?
Eject all by noon.
Joy! Cell ‘n’ no beat.
Jet loan by clone.
Jolt by Clean One.
Enjoy cot ‘n’ a bell.
No clean jolt? Bye.
Job call? None yet.
Tell Bacon: enjoy!
Job once ‘n’ lately.
Job net ally once.
Con-all teeny job.
Jelly con on a bet.
By a cell on no jet.
No-no, eject by all!
Nab to enjoy cell.
No jet to call, bye!
Let enjoy CB loan.
None object ally.
Joy! Abet ‘n’ on cell.
Note job cleanly.
Jolly beaten con.
A bent once jolly.
Teeny job on call.
Jelly, be not a con.
Jet lonely beacon.
Enjoy cell and boat.

Finally, my favorite:

Elect job ‘n’ no lay.

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tongue in, anew

July 14th, 2006 at 8:49 am

Seriously, Rizalist, I have heard of loose talks in the financial circles that Jocjoc was held for money laundering, but nothing sure yet.

I am wont to believe that, since an expired business visa, which was the subject of the liars in Malacañang’s official statement, does not require hundreds of thousands of dollars for bail. Secondly, expired visaholders are immediately sent home, A-to-A, right?

I cannot believe a Treasurer of Rotary International having an expired visa, much less have difficulty in obtaining one. Or at least forgetting to renew before flying to the US!

What intrigues me most is the report that he is seeking political asylum. Is he now being persecuted by this government? Maybe he knows his usefulness is needed no more and is now being dropped like a hot potato.

Is he now willing to tell all?

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Toro

July 14th, 2006 at 9:40 am

Look Joselu, ang interes ko kay Bolante ay hindi tungkol sa problema niya sa IRS kung meron man that caused him to be detained in LA. My interest in Bolante is to be investigated about his involvement in the fertilizer scam that was used to win favors in the 2004 elections. If found guilty, I want him in prison. I want him to be an example of what can happen to future Bolante-wanna-be’s who will allow themselves to be used by this govt and future govts to dispense taxpayers money for their political covenience and end up being the escape goat. What Bolante did was worse than malversation of public funds. He allowed himself to be used as an instrument in committing electoral fraud. Sad to say, I know the guy. We were joint principal wedding sponsors of a couple mutually close to us.

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scud_1975

July 14th, 2006 at 10:09 am

I don’t think the opposition nor the media is hyping up the story behind Bolante’s arrest contrary to Joselu’s comment, karapat dapat lang talagang ipamalita yan. The real problem is the slow justice system of our country, I can’t help but compare it to other countries.. sa atin kasi maiksi ang kamay ng batas.

Kailan naman kaya mahuhuli ang mag-asawang Chingkoe na sangkot sa bilyong-pisong Tax Credit Scam sa Pilipinas, walking distance lang sa bahay ko ang mga yan dito sa Canada pero sabi ng gobyerno hindi daw nila mahanap.

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Alecks Pabico

July 14th, 2006 at 10:24 am

Scud,

Talk of how justice has come to be dispensed in this benighted country, Raul Pangalangan’s Inquirer column today shouldn’t be missed.

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scud_1975

July 14th, 2006 at 11:23 am

What can I say, this is nothing new to us..gagawa ng mga kalokohan sa bansa natin, sa ibang bansa makakatanggap ng hustisya, heaven must be joking.

I can’t even imagine Joc-joc Bolante being investigated by this government even as he admitted realeasing the fund as “pataba sa lupa”-con-suhol to politicians. Maybe we need a divine justice like what happened to Ken Lay of ENRON, kung iaasa lang sa gobyerno maghintay na lang tayo pumuti ang uwak.

Mahathma Gandhi said “Justice does not help those who slumber but helps only those who are vigilant”

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jester-in-exile

July 14th, 2006 at 1:07 pm

rye, rizalist, scud,

speaking about the jocelyn bolante and the fertilizer scam…

blood is a great fertilizer… i’m sure blood money is no different — lots of things grow large because of blood money.

one of those things is hubris.

i’m merely waiting for lightning to strike — doesn’t even matter if it happens literally.

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baycas

July 14th, 2006 at 8:45 pm

t-i-a, hahaha!

—–

further speaking anagramatically…

the isada-bolante clan is saddened

when JOCELYN ISADA BOLANTE
was detained by US immigration.

they are still hopeful for a happy end

for if JAILED CLAN BOY ATONES
he may redeem his marred reputation.

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ryebosco

July 14th, 2006 at 9:05 pm

greetings jester,
i completely read and understand the blog post…when all is said and done, it all boils down to punishment if found guilty of whatever katarantaduhan he/she did

firing squad, electric chair, gas chamber, decapitation….i prefer public beheading…tignan natin kung hindi titino ang mga pilipino

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naykika

July 14th, 2006 at 10:11 pm

When I first read Jocelyn Bolante name I thought he was a she. Maybe the name caused a custom officer, who usually the first officer you meet upon entering the U.S. a second look and scanned his passport and that maybe after searching his luggage they found some undeclared currency in the amount of more than $10,000. That’s enough to put you in deep trouble.

On the lighter side, I’m not, no never change my name with my Commenter’s Pseudonym “naykika”because I cross the border quite a lot and although the U.S. custom and immigration have nothing on me, it could delay my unhindered in and out of the U.S.. Caution to everyone who can afford to bring in 10 grands or more into the U.S., make sure you declared it beforehand to avoid the the hassle that could turn into a nightmare..

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jr_lad

July 15th, 2006 at 4:49 pm

so, joc-joc’s visa was actually revoked by the US embassy but strangely the DFA was mum about it at first for what reasons only DFA people know.

as mentioned in an inquirer article ( http://newsinfo.inq7.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view_article.php?article_id=9899 ) :

“… Flemming said that on the same day, the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles was informed about Bolante’s arrest. Asked how the information was relayed, he said: “We sent them a fax, and we also spoke to them on the phone.”

One of the top immigration specialists in Los Angeles described the cancellation of Bolante’s visa as “a very rare case.”

“This is the first time I’ve heard of such a case in my 30 years in the field of immigration,” Carl Shusterman said, adding that it was not very common for any US consulate to revoke a visa when the holder was not physically present at the consulate.

Shusterman said the most common reason for visa cancellation was overstaying.

“You’d have to do something really bad to get your visa revoked like that,” he said…”

tongue is right. if it’s just a simple case of cancellation of visa, he should have been sent home immediately. it’s but logical that he had asked for a political asylum (as confirmed by atty mosqueda – http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/storypage.aspx?StoryId=44400 ) after knowing that his visa has been revoked, the reason for he’s continued detention in the US.

but is a person subject of a graft and corruption investigation entitled to a political asylum? bakit takot na takot madeport si bolante? lalo tuloy nagiging guilty na may pilit tinatakasan.

kakatawa pa ang sasabihin ng malacanang sa US govt, “please bigyan nyo na ng asylum yan”.

Bring him back! http://opinion.inq7.net/inquireropinion/editorial/view_article.php?article_id=9882

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tongue in, anew

July 16th, 2006 at 4:43 am

Regarding the political asylum thing, consider the following:

-reports have it that Bolante’s family had rejected any help coming from the Phlippine consulate, they even sent for his son to seek bail reduction.

-Gonzales hints that gov’t doesn’t want to extradite him yet and that they are providing legal and financial assistance.

-Nograles wants gov’t to take its hands off Bolante.

-Mike Arroyo lands in in California 2 days (actually 1 day if you consider the time difference) after Bolante’s arrest meaning he departed immediately after getting info on Bolante’s arrest. Mike’s spokesperson, Bunye’s daughter earlier denied Mike’s trip had anything to do with Bolante as she said Mike left 2 days before news broke out. Now we know that the news broke out 5 days after Jocjoc’s arrest and that the Philippine consulate in LA was informed the very day of arrest. Covering-up, ha?

My take? First, is that gov’t has dropped Bolante to be on his own. It’s odd that a US consular office would cancel the visa of a host country’s VIP unless it was upon request made by the host gov’t. The confidentiality rules do not help in getting this confirmed. He was setup for money-laundering which will ensure he stays there for at least a good 5 years, I am told. By that time, Gloria would have completed her term, and no enlightened Jocjoc will be around to testify against her in any impeachment. Buying her enough time to push Cha-cha. Then she can’t be indicted up to the day she dies.

Now, Bolante is actually threatening Gloria by seeking asylum, which is only possible if he breaks all ties with her gov’t and give the US enough reason to believe he is now being persecuted in his country. Maybe by spilling the beans on the real fertilizer scam masterminds, he can convince the US authorities involved that his life is threatened. The US strictly enforces anti-money laundering and anti-racketeering (RICO) laws. Remember, Imelda was charged under the RICO act even if the crime was committed outside the US.

Jocjoc’s rejection of legal aid and asylum application could also explain the paranoia in Nograles’ hands-off advise. He probably thinks Bolante is an enemy, so why assist him?

My theory will be enforced if Gonzales turns around and files extradition with the help of the Ombudsman the moment it appears that the US is about to deport him. To me, that is a sure sign that Malacañang has really lost control over Bolante and only his extradition can reestablish it. They don’t want the US turning over Bolante to the Senate, do they?

On the other hand, this may be an opportunity to come up with a scheme to wiggle Gloria out of the Fertilizer Scam mess. Mike Arroyo’s lawyers secure political asylum for Jocjoc, and we will never hear of him again. No more state witness.

Check the flight manifests. If Mike traveled with a lawyer from The Firm, or any of the next flights carry one, this is the big move being planned all these times.

One thing is sure though, the bright boys and the little girl in Malacañang are losing sleep. Check the huge eyebags.

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jr_lad

July 27th, 2006 at 2:01 pm

wow, bolante is applying for asylum because he said he is a target for assassination by the NPA. galing namang alibi niyan. ang alam ko yung mga nag-aapply lang ng political asylum ay yung mga taong subjected to govt’s persecutions because of their political beliefs. pero yung nasa pangangalaga ng govt? joc-joc-joc!
pero mabuti naman at mukhang hindi kakagatin ng US authorities ang kanyang alibi. so, joc-joc, hope to see you soon.

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/storypage.aspx?StoryId=45627

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The Daily PCIJ » Blog Archive » U.S. Court of Appeals rejects Bolante asylum petition

September 2nd, 2008 at 7:36 pm

[…] 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. […]

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