Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr claimed that the former official campaign spokesperson of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo advised him to hold a press conference to deny that he was abducted at the airport when he returned to Manila from Hong Kong on Tuesday.
In an exclusive interview with GMA News, aired Saturday night, Lozada, the key witness in the Senate inquiry on the National Broadband Network controversy, said that Michael “Mike” Defensor, also told him to say to the media that he had no knowledge in the negotiations for the $329.48-million NBN project, which was bagged by China’s Zhong Xing Telecommunications Equipment (ZTE) Corp.
Lozada claimed that Defensor told him that he had to deny reports that he was abducted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City because “Ma’am,” — referring to Mrs Arroyo — was already “hurt” with what was happening.
“Nasasaktan na si Ma’am sa nangyayari. i-deny ko raw na kinuha ako, that I went willingly….Yung abogado naman, ay advice sa akin, i-deny ko ‘yong alam ko sa ZTE, (I was told that Ma’am was hurt with what is happening, so I had to deny that I was abducted, but went willingly with the men who fetched me at the airport. The lawyer meanwhile advised me to deny what I knew about ZTE)” Lozada told GMA News’s Mike Enriquez.
After Mrs Arroyo was catapulted to power via EDSA Dos uprising in January 2001, the President appointed Defensor as secretary of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council.
In August 2004, Defensor was appointed secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He also became the official campaign spokesperson of Mrs Arroyo during the 2004 presidential elections.
He also became presidential chief of staff in 2007, until he resigned in February to run as senator in the May 14 mid-term elections.
In a separate interview with GMA News, aired Saturday night, Defensor confirmed that he advised Lozada to hold a press conference and invite personalities “with credibility.”
However, GMA News quoted Defensor as saying that he did not advise Lozada to clear the name of President Arroyo’s husband, Jose Miguel Mike Arroyo, and other government officials in what Lozada would tell to media.
GMA News also quoted Defensor as saying that he denied that he told Lozada that Enriquez would take part in the supposed press conference as Lozada’s “media handler.”
According to Defensor, he was suggesting to Lozada to tap personalities “with credibility.”
During Enriquez’s interview with Lozada on Saturday, the latter claimed that Defensor told him that Enriquez would be part of the media team that would handle the press conference for Lozada.
“Si Mike (Defensor) ang mag-suggest na mag-press con, at ikaw (Enriquez) ang magha-handle ng paglabas ko sa press,” Lozada told Enriquez.
Enriquez denied that he would take part in Defensor’s alleged media plan for Lozada.
When asked by GMA News why he was allegedly convinced by Defensor to hold a press conference, Lozada said, “Kasi magsisinungaling na ko sa tao (Because I had to lie to the public).”