"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Arroyo dared to sue Abalos, others in NBN deal scandal

SAN JOSE, Antique, Philippines — Senator Richard Gordon asked Malacañang on Monday to take action against those involved in the scrapped National Broadband Network (NBN) contract.

Gordon urged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to direct the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice to file cases against former Commission on Elections chair Benjamin Abalos Sr. and others involved in the scrapped national broadband deal.

He also said the government should seek the help of the Chinese government to shed light on the involvement of the Chinese ZTE Corp. and Philippine government officials in the alleged multi-million-dollar bribery scandal.

Gordon said this could be done through diplomatic channels or backdoor negotiations.

"There's corroborating evidence against Abalos. There's (also) circumstantial evidence," Gordon told reporters after speaking at the commemorative rites marking the 22nd death anniversary of former Antique Gov. Evelio Javier on Monday.

He said the President should not wait for the Senate investigation to be completed before directing the investigation and the filing of cases.

Gordon said the testimony of Rodolfo Lozada Jr., former technical consultant to the NBN deal, strengthened the evidence against Abalos.

"I'm happy that he (Lozada) is coming out. Now, we have a bigger case against Abalos. Former National Economic Development Authority and now Commission on Education chairman Romulo Neri has a lot to explain too," he said. (Neri tapped Lozada's technical advice on the NBN project specifications, the latter being an electronics engineer.)

But Gordon said Lozada should have surfaced and said what he knew about the deal earlier.

He did not include First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo as among those that should be investigated and charged, saying all statements allegedly linking Arroyo to the controversial were "hearsay" and would not stand in courts.

Lozada and Jose de Venecia III have testified that Abalos brokered the overpriced ZTE project and offered a bribe. They have also linked the First Gentleman to the deal.

"It's (allegation against Arroyo) still hearsay. But perception is even worse than reality," said Gordon.

Gordon, who recalled the integrity, moral courage and dedication to public service of the slain former governor of Antique, called on the President to stop making "allowances" to people around her.

"She (Ms. Arroyo) is cowed by the fear of being deposed by the powers of Estrada and his cohorts. She does certain things that she should not be doing. She has to make allowances to people around here," said Gordon.

He said Abalos should have been removed from his post by the President a long time ago.

"But I suppose there's a lot of things owed to Abalos." He failed to elaborate on this statement.

He also called on the President to "lead and forget everything (else)."

"It's kind of hard because everybody is now questioning her credibility, especially the First Gentleman. But nonetheless, you are the President until the end of your term or when you are impeached. It's never too late to fix up this nation," said Gordon.

Inquirer Cebu Daily News
First Posted 14:17:00 02/12/2008http://globalnation.inquirer.net/cebudailynews/visayas/view/20080212-118370/Arroyo-dared-to-sue-Abalos-others-in-NBN-deal-scandal


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