[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 8 February 2008 Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Fri Feb 8 18:00:17 PHT 2008

Newsbriefs 8 February 2008 Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan



Govt deals overpriced by 20 percent, said witness (Reuters)


Contracts with the Philippine government are usually overpriced by least 20 percent to facilitate kickbacks, a former senior state official told a Senate inquiry into corruption on Friday. 


In an emotional testimony, Rodolfo Lozada reiterated previous allegations that the Philippines' top election official had demanded $130 million as his cut for an eventual $329 million telecoms deal with China's ZTE, double the usual kickback. 


"The whole problem started when Chairman Abalos wanted $130 million for the project," said Lozada, the former head of the state-run Philippine Forest Corp. 


(UPDATE 5) Lozada links First Gentleman, Abalos to NBN deal (INQUIRER.net)

 MANILA, Philippines -- Rodolfo Lozada Jr., the key witness in the Senate inquiry into the national broadband network controversy, has linked First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and former Commissions on Election chairman Benjamin Abalos to the national broadband network controversy.

In his testimony Friday before the Senate, Lozada said former socioeconomic planning secretary Romulo Neri had instructed him not to involve the First Gentleman in the issue.

Lozada said the order was relayed to him by Malacañang functionary Medy Poblador while he was in Hong Kong where government authorities had sent him because "they couldn't find a legal remedy to stop the Senate" from requiring him to appear before its inquiry on the $329 million NBN agreement that was eventually forged with China's ZTE Corp.

DoTC, former CICT chairman defend NBN deal anew (INQUIRER.net)

MANILA, Philippines--The Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC) and the former chairman of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) has come out to defend anew the controversial National Broadband Network (NBN) project.

In a televised press conference, DoTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza reiterated that the project went through the evaluation of the CICT and the DoTC, and eventually the National Economic Development Authority-Investment Coordination Committee (NEDA-ICC).

Also present during the press conference was DoTC Assistant Secretary Lorenzo Formoso III and former CICT chairman Ramon Sales who had earlier resigned from his post for health reasons.

The press conference was held after Rodolfo Noel "Jun" Lozada Jr., the key witness in the Senate inquiry into the national broadband network controversy, said he was tapped by former National Economic Development Authority Director General Romulo Neri as technical consultant to the NBN project.

Neri admits 'moderate the greed' comment (abs-cbnNEWS.com )


Former socioeconomic development chief Romulo Neri on Friday admitted telling Rodolfo Noel "Jun" Lozada Jr. to "moderate the greed" while negotiating with the people involved in the botched $329-million national broadband network (NBN) deal.


"With friends and you have the intimate conversation sometimes I use colorful language," Neri told ABS-CBN New Channel.


However, Neri said he was not referring to the alleged bribery involved in the deal. He said what he meant was to "reduce the cost of the project."


"There are rumors that the project is overpriced so you look for ways to reduce it," he said.


Senate invites Valeroso, DOTC officials (abs-cbnNEWS.com ) 


The Senate invited Friday officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications and a police officer who reportedly fetched witness Rodolfo Lozada Jr. in its next hearing on the scrapped national broadband network deal. 


Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, chairman of the blue ribbon committee, said DOTC officials will be invited to the Senate hearing on Monday at 10:30 a.m. to explain the alleged suspicious increase in the project cost from $262 million to $329 million. 


Palace: 'Crying boy' Lozada 'playacting' (INQUIRER.net)

 MANILA, Philippines -- Malacañang played down the testimony of whistleblower Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. before the Senate investigation on the controversial $329-million ZTE broadband deal on Friday, calling it playacting.

"Drama-drama lang yan, crying boy [It's mere playacting from a crying boy]," chief presidential legal counsel Sergio Apostol told reporters at the Palace.

GMA to DOJ: Probe culprits in ZTE deal (www.philstar.com)

With the controversy over the cancelled $329-million national broadband network (NBN) deal with China's ZTE Corp. once again at the doorstep of Malacañang, President Arroyo has ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to determine who may be liable for violation of procurement and anti-graft laws in pursuit of the deal.

The order of the President came as her husband, First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo, challenged Rodolfo Lozada Jr. and Jose "Joey" de Venecia III to file a case in court if they have hard evidence about his alleged involvement in the deal.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said Mrs. Arroyo has also directed the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to discuss with Congress the possibility of entering into a memorandum of agreement on the service of warrants issued by Congress.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Sergio Apostol said the directive of the President should not be taken as a move to preempt the Senate in its inquiry into the deal.

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