Blue Ribbon panel wont exempt anybody with liability on NBN-ZTE deal
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will not exempt anybody who has liability on the botched $329-million national broadband network (NBN) project with China's ZTE Corporation, and assured that the committee report on the investigation would be firm and fair, stressed Committee Chair Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.).
Gordon said it is unfortunate that there are people who accuse him of prejudgment when it is actually he who is being prejudged of being biased even if the committee report has not yet been released.
"I would like to assure the general public that we will be firm and fair. We are not singling out anyone. In fact, we will not exempt anybody, even the President, the First Gentleman, the former Speaker and his son, and even Mr. Jun Lozada if he had done wrong. We will use the law, because that is the way it should be," he said.
Gordon said that the committee would recommend the filing of charges against those people who were involved in the project if there is sufficient evidence; however, if there is no evidence against the person but is perceived to have had a part on the deal, the committee may still reprimand and urge the person to explain.
He added that there are actions which may not be illegal, but could be immoral or unethical.
"The President has to explain, why did she not stop the deal early on? The First Gentleman should explain why these people are running to him. Why did they play golf with the ZTE officials? These things are either immoral or unethical. In the same manner that it is not right that a son of Speaker is involved in this project," he said.
The senator pointed out that Jose "Joey" De Venecia III and Rodolfo "Jun" Lozada were also involved in the controversial project and therefore should not be exempted from possible charges.
"Mr. Joey De Venecia and Mr. Lozada were part of this project. They have liabilities too. However, if they are willing and if the justice department permits it, they can become state witnesses," Gordon said.
He noted that although they have revealed irregularities in the project, De Venecia and Lozada cannot be considered whistleblowers because in definition, a whistleblower is someone who exposes wrongdoing but is not part of it.
Gordon said that in the country, there is no legal definition of a whistleblower yet. However, he said that the blue ribbon committee report would include a recommendation that a whistleblower law be passed to establish a clear state policy on the matter, assure action on the relevant information disclosed, afford legal protection on the whistleblower, and define the parameters and procedures for disclosure that guarantee due process.