Malacañang on Sunday denied that it provided documents to Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, which she used in “grilling” Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr during Friday’s Senate inquiry into the aborted National Broadband Network (NBN) project.
Lorelei Fajardo, deputy presidential spokesperson, said there was no way that the Palace could give documents to Santiago, who “cannot be dictated by anyone.”
During the inquiry Lozada admitted to “indiscretions” while he headed Philippine Forest Corporation (PhilForest), an agency under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Santiago, a Palace ally, noted that certain projects of PhilForest were implemented without public bidding.
Also, she said PhilForest paid for a P5-million insurance policy that Lozada approved. Lozada’s wife, Ma. Violeta, was the insurance agent from Insular Life who brokered the deal.
Santiago likewise questioned projects awarded to Lozada’s brother, and PhilForest’s importation of 35 goats from Australia worth P700,000, which were fed with jathropa grass.
Likewise, she cited records showing that PhilForest leased about 50 hectares of land in Antipolo City to a private corporation that had Lozada and his wife as representatives.
But Lozada said that while he had “made some mistakes which made me lose my respect for myself,” he would have lost all respect for himself if he had chosen not to reveal what he knew about the NBN project that was bagged by China’s Zhong Xing Telecommunications Equipment (ZTE) Corp. for $329.48 million.
The NBN-ZTE deal was scrapped by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in September 2007, after her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, was linked to the alleged anomaly by Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr’s son, Jose III.
On Friday, February 8, Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr testified before the Senate that Benjamin Abalos Sr, former chairman of the Commission on Elections, wanted a $130-million “commission” from the NBN project.
On Sunday, Fajardo told reporters that the Palace had no intention of destroying the credibility of Lozada.
She said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s instruction was for the Department of Justice to conduct an investigation into the NBN-ZTE deal to know who could be liable in the project mess.
“When the opposition does a demolition job against the government, they say they are just bringing out the truth. When the government bares embarrassing truths about the opposition, they call it a demolition job,” Fajardo said.
“We must tell people the truth about Lozada so they will know what really is behind his accusations and claims,” she added. – Amita Legaspi, GMANews.TV