The Jun Lozada – ZTE-NBN Saga, Part 2

CONTINUATION:

reflections blog title 2

February 17, 2008

JUN LOZADA battles ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN on TV | # | Current eventsSocio-Political — jamalashley @ 4:18 pm

 

The “flavor of the month” Jun Lozada battled all the President’s men for about 3 hours on Prime Time TV last night. The country’s leading TV / radio network ABS-CBN held a Special Coverage titled “HARAPAN” (Face-to-Face): The Jun Lozada Exposé. It was broadcast on VHF (ABS-CBN 2), on cable TV ( ANC), and on radio station DZMM (which is also aired on cable TV).

Arrayed against Lozada were former Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chair Benjamin Abalos and his lawyer Sal Panelo; Phil. National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Avelino Razon; Malacanang Palace’s deputy spokesman Dr. Anthony Golez, Dept. of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Undersecretary Formoso, and Emeritus Chair of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce Inc (PCCI) Donald Dee. Also invited were former Budget Secretary Ben Diokno, one nun, one student leader and the Chair of the Makati Business Club Ramon del Rosarion.Korina Sanchez and Ricky Carandang hosted the program.

DONALD DEE

The first salvo was provided by the hosts by asking Lozada about Mr. Donald Dee.

donald dee
Donald Dee

Lozada said that Dee asked former NEDA chief Romulo Neri to talk to the President. Dee allegedly told Neri, “Noong walang krisis, may 200 Million (pesos) para sa iyo, ngayon na may krisis pa…” (When there was no crisis, there was 200 million (pesos) for you, now that there is a crisis…)

Donald Dee was incensed. He told Lozada that he would see him in court and that he should be ready to substantiate his claims. Lozada reiterated what he said.

Lozada said something like the country has legal luminaries but no “justice luminaries”. His point was that we have laws but no justice.

What if Dee will sue Lozada for defamation of character or even libel, and no one will testify in favor of Lozada. And what if Neri would testify against Lozada, how can Lozada win the case, even presuming that he was truthful? How can the courts determine the truth in such a case? Will they have to rely on the testimony of liars because the testimony of liars is better than no testimony? Proving that somebody lied is certainly not easy.

ABALOS

Abalos again recounted the supposed ‘crimes’ of Lozada which he admitted to in the Senate. Lozada refuted them, especially regarding the insurance issue. Lozada said Benjamin Abalosthat the beneficiary of the insurance was not him but the office.

But one thing that Abalos said that struck me was his assertion that if Lozada was deathly afraid of him since January 2007, then why was Lozada still coming to Wack Wack to play golf or eat meals or snacks at least once a month the whole year through?

Lozada answered that his visit to the club became less frequent and only when he is accompanied by Secretary Neri whom he described as his “shield” (pangsangga o panangga).

When asked by the hosts to say what exactly is he accusing Abalos of, Lozada answered with a question. He asked if it is an accusation if he says that Abalos told him “proteksionan mo ang 130 million (dollars).” (protect [my] 130 million [dollars].

Regarding the President’s husband, Lozada repeated what he said in the Senate about Abalos calling Mr. Arroyo. He said that it really struck him how powerful Abalos was because he was able (through Mr. Arroyo) to make the Chinese send an official letter (indicating that there was available financing for NBN) on a SATURDAY, December 2, 2006.

Like a broken record, Abalos kept on harping that Lozada and Joey de Venecia had said that he (Abalos) and De Venecia met only in December 2006 so how could Lozada, whose job was supposedly to reconcile both project proposals, say that they (Lozada and Abalos) had met about the project before December.

Lozada answered again and again that he never said he met with them (de Venecia and Abalos) together before December. He met with them several times separately. He said he was like a ping pong, going from Joey to Abalos and back again.

Like a good debater, Abalos begged the question or turned around Lozada’s statements. He kept on saying that he could not be a broker for ZTE because it was already a “done deal”, i.e., the Chinese had already chosen ZTE as supplier.

Really, either Abalos has a very low IQ or he thinks everyone else has low IQ. There was absolutely no way for him to broker for ZTE to the Chinese government. He is not even Chinese. But as Lozada pointed out, his job was to make the government – Philippine government – approve the project.

RAZON

PNP chief Gen. Razon said, without blinking an eye, that he had always been hilippine National Police Chief Avelino Razonconsistent. He said that they “protected” Lozada as per request of DENR Secretary Atienza.

If it were in the US or in some European countries, the producers would probably show a video footage of him taken during his press con with Atienza in Feb. 5 where he said that the family of Lozada, specifically his sister, requested the PNP for protection. But the Filipino media are more courteous to the guests.

At any rate, Lozada reminded the police general of his presscon with Sec. Atienza.

NOT VIP

Lozada said that if he were indeed being protected as a Very Important Person (VIP), then the escorts would have addressed him as “Sir” or Mr. Lozada. But that was not the case. The escorts referred to him as “ito” (this [thing]). (“Saan natin idala ito.?” [Where do we bring this ___”]). He said that it was as if he were a mere piece of sack.

Also, Lozada reiterated that he kept on asking his escorts where they were going but they merely replied, “Relax lang.” (Just relax). And as to his having his cellphone, which the President’s men kept on insisting was a clear proof that Lozada was free to contact anyone, Lozada said that he was asked, in a very stern voice, to turn off his cellphone. The escort told him that they could monitor his cellphone anyway.

Lozada again acknowledged the crucial role of the Media. He said that one escort told another, “Ibalik na natin ito, at mainit na ito sa Media.” (Let’s bring this (thing or person) back, this (thing or person) is very hot in the Media.”

And of course, Lozada asked if he were treated as a VIP, then why did the escorts drove him up to Los Banos when his home is in Pasig.

MANNY GAITE

Deputy Executive Secretary Manny Gaite was implicated further by Lozada. He said that while he was in Hong Kong, he mentioned to Gaite that he wanted to go home

gaite
Manny Gaite

already as he had no more money.

It appears that this “Chinese provincial”, as he calls himself, is fond of telling government people that he has no more money. That was what he told former Secretary Mike Defensor when they met at La Salle in the evening of Feb. 5. And like Defensor, Gaite took the bait. He asked Lozada to send someone to pick up half a million pesos.

Lozada, playing his role as a poor Chinese provincial (probinsyanong Intsik), he claimed that he then went on a shopping spree because he wanted to experience the feeling of being rich.

Abalos did not let that pass. Abalos again pointed out that he paid almost half a million pesos (P 425,000) to become a member of Wack Wack golf and country club plus the P200,000.00 annual dues and all the monthly billings. In other words, he may be a Chinese provincial, but he is a RICH Chinese provincial.

I must say, Abalos scored a point there.

PALACE SPOKESMAN

Palace deputy spokesperson Dr. Anthony Golez said that the proper venue for Lozada’s allegations are the courts because in courts, the truth is measured by the preponderance of evidence and not dramatics.

Apparently, the palace people think that at the Senate hearings, evidence is not needed.

ASEC FORMOSO

Asst. Secretary Formoso of DOTC was emotionally agitated. He said that Lozada kept on formosorepeating that he (Lozada) was wearing only a T-shirt while his opponents were wearing Barong Tagalog and Western suits. Mr. Formoso, who was in coat and tie, said that he was brought up to understand that one should wear good clothes as a show of respect to other people and never to come out in one’s underwear.

Bravo for Formoso! I totally agree with him. But then, perhaps Lozada, who keeps on referring to himself as a Chinese provincial, thought that he was merely being true to form. After all, wasn’t he wearing a camisa chino?

Formoso charged that Lozada was not officially designated as consultant or member of any evaluating team either in NEDA or CICT. Therefore, his role was very suspicious. As Mr. Abalos said, he could be very well be the”broker” in this deal.

Lozada answered that he presented reports at least three times at the Cabinet yet he was never officially designated as consultant or member of any evaluating team. He asked Formoso to ask the President or the Cabinet why he was allowed to present to them even though he had no official designation.

This, I believe is the crux of the problem. We have such mediocre people in the bureaucracy. People pay billions or trillions of pesos to civil servants yet departments and even the Cabinet have to get people from outside the bureaucracy to tell them what the bureaucrats are paid to do.

When I was in the bureaucracy, some of my colleagues told me that many people, especially the higher officials, were afraid of me because I would recognize what these people truly were — frauds. My friends said that these people were so afraid that I would expose them as such. I never expose people to ridicule. But I must say, I was truly, truly shocked to learn the very low level of knowledge and expertise in our government agencies and other state-run institutions.

If our Civil Service system only employs people based on MERIT then these things could never happen. The bureaucrats do not have to be “mendicants”, as Lozada puts it.

I remember the time when a Department Secretary in a Cabinet meeting reportedly asked the President at that time what he should do. The President answered that the Secretary was supposed to give him, the President, advice and not vice versa.

Poor President Arroyo, most of her advisers are former military officers. Naturally, she would be given advice from the viewpoint of military minds. I would not be surprised if she will soon declare Martial Law. That would be her downfall.

TV MARATHON REPLAYS

The 3-hour HARAPAN special coverage is scheduled to be replayed twice today to give the ZTE-NBN-Lozada affair as much media mileage as possible.

THE BATTLE OF OLIGARCHS

In the 1980s, the pre-Martial Law oligarchs battled the Marcos oligarchs or cronies, as they were then called. Today, there seems to be another oligarchy battle going on. Romulo Neri had chosen his oligarchs. Jun Lozada had chosen his. History will judge who made the wiser choice.

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February 19, 2008

NERI SAID MACAPAGAL-ARROYO IS EVIL – JUN LOZADA | # | Current eventsSocio-Political — jamalashley @ 3:28 am

 

Jun Lozada was again practically all by his lonesome self in the Senate hearing of January 18 because All The President’s Men had the very convenient excuse of being subpoenaed to attend another hearing at the Ombudsman. Only Brother Felipe, the host of the Lozadas at La Salle Greenhills, Jun’s elder sister Carmen and the lawyer for the absent military/police/para-military men who “escorted” Mr. Lozada at the airport and beyond were the other Senate witnesses.

CHALLENGES TO THE SENATE

The lawyer for Gen. Atutubo and other people who escorted Jun Lozada informed the Senate through a letter and through oral statements that his clients refuse to attend Senate meetings because this particular committee hearing was not “in aid of legislation” but “in aid of prosecution,” as evidenced by Senator Madrigal’s filing of criminal charges against some military people, some of whom were witnesses in the last Senate hearing. The lawyer said that his clients will not attend Senate hearings because they do not want to incriminate themselves.

The senators rightly pointed out that as per Supreme Court ruling, the right to self-incrimination cannot be invoked prematurely; i.e., before the questions are asked. And the Ombudsperson herself said to the media that their investigation is “in aid of prosecution” and the Senate’s is “in aid of legislation.

The Ombudsman investigation is now being used by the people impleaded as the excuse for not answering questions which may be deemed under sub judice rules.

Neri, of course, still hides behind his petition to the Supreme Court on Executive Privilege.

The Chinese firm ZTE has called the Senate hearing a “political circus” and refuses to zteacknowledge the Senate’s invitation.

PNP chief Gen. Avelino Razon told the Senate in a previous hearing that as far as they are concerned, the Senate cannot arrest anyone outside the Senate premises. Again, the senators cited Supreme Court decisions (Sabio case).

But the Senate’s powerlessness is quite apparent in these hearings. The executive branch has nothing but contempt and disdain for it. When the Senate issued an arrest warrant for Lozada, airport officials Cusi and Atutubo refused to cooperate with the Office of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms. But, they bent over backwards to help the police“escort” Lozada out of the airport. All The President’s Men still uses EO 464 as their reason for turning down the Senate’s invitation.

Without the Media, the Senate is but a paper tiger.

But because of the Senate, we have Joey de Venecia, Jun Lozada and other brave individuals who expose some corrupt and even criminal practices of government people.

EVIL GLORIA

According to Lozada, Mr, Neri described President Arroyo as “Evil” and that she had

gma
Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

“lost all moral authority” over him (Neri) after she told him to approve the ZTE-NBN deal.

Also according to Lozada, Neri described the President as “right in the middle” of the Philippine society’s “ecosystem of corruption.”

It took some coaxing from Senator Lacson and intimidation from Senator Ponce-Enrile for Lozada to reveal Neri’s ideas about the President and the Philippine political economy.

Lozada publicly apologized to Neri for saying what he said. He also asked the public to try to protect Neri from possible harm.

In a presscon by Malacanang, Neri neither confirmed nor denied he said that Gloria is Evil. He simply quipped that he couldn’t remember.

Back to the Senate hearing, Sen, Pangilinan asked Lozada about Neri’s conversation with the President. According to Lozada, Neri told the President, “Baka po ma’am mag-ingay sa Media ito kasi magulo na sa media.”

Ms. Arroyo allegedly answered, “Pakulo lang yan ni Joey and his father.”

Neri then told the President, “Baka hindi na makasali sa loans ang NBN kasi hindi ito kasama originally.”

The President then allegedly told Neri to make sure that the NBN will be included in the loans to be given by China.

This was supposed to be the incident that made Neri think of resigning. But instead of Neri quitting, NEDA approved the loan the following day.

Previous to this, Neri had testified in the Senate that he told the President that Abalos was bribing him with 200 million pesos to which the President allegedly instructed him to forget the bribe but approve the project.

Neri must be in a terrible spot right now. The “Evil” President would surely be furious and sooner or later, she would get her vengeance.

PATRIOTIC MONEY

According to Lozada, Neri wanted to testify at the Senate but he was afraid that if he would do that, he might find himself out of job. He thus wanted some “insurance” or

romulo-neri
Romulo Neri

“safety net” as Lozada described it. Neri and Lozada termed this safety net as “Patriotic Money.” In other words, Neri and Lozada scouted for “sponsors”; i.e., people who are willing to support Neri with some “patriotic money” so he would not suffer any lifestyle loss.

This is truly NAUSEATING. Neri was willing to spill the beans on the administration if some people would pay him for it. This really gives me the shivers. These are the kind of people that people our bureaucracy. And Jun Lozada was the one looking for moneyed sponsors.

And to think that Neri has the gall to talk about reforming the society. I feel like puking.

In the Malacanang presscon, Neri told the press that he was indeed offered “patriotic money” with the sum of 20 million pesos. But he said he declined. After all, Abalos was offering him 200 million pesos.

Neri should, if he still has some dignity left in him, tell the people who was the person or persons who offered him such amount. He cannot forever hide behind technical legalities involving sub judice or Supreme Court petitions. Otherwise, it would be fair for everyone to assume that it is all in Neri’s imagination.

A SUPPOSEDLY NON-EXISTENT MEETING

On Dec. 7, 2007,  Jun Lozada arranged a meeting between Neri and two opposition senators, Madrigal and Lacson. They were joined by the senators’ chiefs of staff. The meeting was held in Makati.

The people present reportedly promised to say that the meeting never happened. However, somebody had leaked it to the press, specifically The Tribune, according to Neri. The Tribune article prompted Neri to publicly admit that there was such a meeting. And since Neri already revealed it, Lacson asked Lozada what transpired in that meeting.

Aside from the “Gloria is Evil” bombshell, Lozada said that Neri gave a powerpoint presentation about the “political economy” of the Philippines. As mentioned earlier, Pres. GMA is supposed to be the center of “the ecosystem of corruption.” Surrounding the president are the oligarchs – namely, Enrique Razon, Tommy Alcantara, Lucio Tan and Aboitiz. These people, allegedly according to Neri’s presentation, are the ones who influence (nakakaimpluwensiya) the President and benefit (nakikinabang) from her administration.

The huge influence of the above-named individuals is not news to many people. I have known this for quite some time now, but for most Filipinos, this may be the first time they would have heard of it. Of course, Razon’s name and massive influence became widely known during the start of the NBN hearing with Joey de Venecia spilling the beans.

OIL SMUGGLING

According to Sen. Madrigal, one of the dens of corruption is OIL SMUGGLING which allegedly according to Neri amounts to some P 3 Billion a year. And this is controlled by one crony. If the choices are only limited to the four names mentioned, then one can easily deduce who that is. He is the one whose business is concerned with oil, naturally.

But then, there is oil smuggling because there are buyers for smuggled oil. In fact, practically everyone, except for the oil majors, buy only smuggled oil. I am not even sure if the oil majors do not buy some oil from the smugglers.

If we are speaking of Moral Recovery (at least some people are), perhaps some oil players would want to try buying oil the regular way – with taxes. I will be very glad to give them a very low price as long as they have the necessary bank credentials. Buying non-smuggled oil can still be profitable and competitive with smuggled oil.

WORD OF HONOR

Sen. Panfilo Lacson kept on repeating at the hearing and to media people that he did not tell anyone of the meeting with Neri because he gave his word that he would keep it a secret. But he said, if under oath, he would reveal everything because a promise is just between him and the other person (Mr. Neri in this case) but if he would be made to testify under oath in the Senate hearing, it would be between him and the Senate, between him and the country and between him and God.

Oh my God! I think nobody in his right mind would now trust Senator Lacson if he says he gives his word because his word means nothing if he is under oath in Senate inquiries.

In my world, when a gentleman or lady gives his/her word, that means it is between him/her and God or whatever s/he holds most sacred. If I give my word, no Senate inquiry or a thousand oaths can change it.

Literature has many examples of men and women who sacrificed even their very lives just so they remain true to their word. I guess this kind of palabra de honor is now unimaginable in political circles.

RUB-OUT ATTEMPT

The evidence for an attempted rub-out is also mounting. The testimony of Lozada as to what happened at the airport was very different from Gen. Atutubo’s testimony to the senators who made an ocular inspection a few days ago. Atutubo and his companions who escorted Lozada refused to testify in this and future Senate hearings.

Another interesting fact was narrated by Jun’s sister, Carmen. According to her, when they were at the Brothers’ cloister in La Salle, Atty. Bautista came over to ask her to sign a letter requesting the police for protection for Jun. The letter would be antedated.

She overheard the conversation between Bautista and Col. Paul Mascarinas. Bautista asked, “Eh, yung CCTV?”. Mascarinas answered, “Secure na po ‘yon.”

After some more Q & A exchange between the two, Bautista asked, “Eh kung ipaproduce sa inyo si Valeroso?” There was a pause, according to Carmen, and then Mascarinas looked up and said, “Bahala na po sila nun.”

Later, Carmen heard Bautista say, (I think over the phone)  “Ipa presscon niyo na lang ito, delikado ito sa Senado.”

First, the CCTV tapes are very important. The Senate could not get videos of Lozada and company while they were in the tube. The Senate was given only a portion of the tapes where the faces of the escorts cannot be easily recognized. The Senate committee is still waiting for the colored recording.

Valeroso’s identity is very very suspicious, as mentioned in my earlier posts.

The CCTV tapes become very important if there was something going on that the public should not know.

By the way, Neri, in the Malacanang presscon, said that he had never met Atty. Bautista although he was, on Senate’s record, Neri’s counsel. Neri said something about Bautista doing his petition at the Supreme Court.

Bautista was introduced to Lozada as Neri’s counsel.

MALACANANG PRESS CON

As mentioned above, Malacanang called a press conference with Neri, Press Secretary Bunye and Executive Secretary Ermita. The presscon was conducted in order to do “damage control” over Lozada’s new bombshells in the Senate.

What is very telling was that Neri neither confirmed nor denied Lozada’s statement that Neri said the “President is Evil.”

And when asked how he felt about Lozada, he answered, “I can understand what he went through. Naiintindihan ko ang kalagayan niya.” (I understand his situation.) Does this mean that we should believe everything Lozada said? Then what would that make of Neri’s statements?

Neri also did not deny that he told Lozada to “moderate their greed”. He said that he simply meant “to lower the project cost.” Does Neri think that everyone is stupid or is it his cowardly way of telling the public to believe Lozada and understand that he (Neri) could not say what he wants to say because he is “under duress”?

He also confirmed the Dec 7 meeting at Makati but downplayed it by saying that it had nothing to do with ZTE since he just gave a lecture on political economy.

One reporter asked Neri, “If it was not important, then why all the secrecy?”

He answered something like, “If you want, I can give you a lecture.”

NERI’S LECTURE

What lecture? As Senator Pimentel said, anybody can give an analysis of what he thinks is the structure of Philippine political economy.

Neri claims that he was a “voice in the wilderness”. He must really be spaced out. His ideas are nothing new. Besides, he had done NOTHING about it. He has been in power for so many years – as head of Congressional Planning and Budget Office and NEDA boss. What has he done?

According to Lozada, he and Neri created the Philippine Forests Corporation specifically for the benefit of one man — General Corpus. In one project, a big part was set aside to be given to a friend of Neri. According to Sen. Madrigal, Neri recently wrote a letter to the NEDA Director-General to tell him to keep Neri’s men as Technical Consultants. One of these consultants is a high school graduate (or not even a high school graduate?) And of course, he gave the go signal for the ZTE-NBN project for the NEDA Board to approve it. And up to now, he defends the project’s viability and profitability.

At the press conference, he said that the cost of power in the country is double that of other countries and if the system is reformed, households can save at least P1000 a month.

But he said, to get that savings, he needs to overhaul the whole political economy of the country!

When I was at the Department of Energy in the mid 1990s, I gave a report to the Secretary showing that the price of electricity in the Philippines was the second highest in Asia, next only to Japan. My point was that it was ridiculously too high and something had to be done about it. The next thing I knew, the Secretary was saying on TV the same thing, but he said it in such a way that it was something that the Filipinos could even be proud of!

In the 1990s, Neri had a lot of congressional connections. What did he do for the energy crises? He did not even speak against the Oil Deregulation Law. He was already in the Congressional Planning and Budget Office when Petron was sold for some 15 B and P 10 B of its proceeds were given back to the three oil companies as OPSF balance payments. And in the process, the state lost control of its only oil company, which could have competed with foreign oil companies much as what PETRONAS is now doing for Malaysia or PTT for Thailand. Did he say anything about it then or ever? Wasn’t Neri once upon a time with PNOC?

During the energy crisis of the early 1990s, the NAPOCOR President said that one of the reasons for the energy crisis was that NAPOCOR could not do its job because the pay was too small. So Congress exempted NAPOCOR from Standardization Law and triple or quadrupled the salaries of its people. NAPOCOR’s sorry state of affairs never went well but their officers and staff lapped in luxury while the Filipino people were mired deeper in high energy costs.

Billions of pesos worth of commissions were made during the Power Crisis with power plants and power barges set up everywhere, charging the Filipino people with extravagant costs for power. What did Neri do? Why didn’t he give the congressmen a lecture on Energy and Power costs then?

Finally, has Mr. Neri said anything about the TRANSCO sale? Aren’t the elites he mentioned in his so-called lecture involve in the deal? Where was his advocacy then?

Neri has the gall to tell his detractors to just support his reform agenda. What reform agenda? His simplistic take on the political economy?

He said, “I’m looking for what’s good in the country. And these reforms have to be done…I cannot see it coming from the Senate alone. I cannot see it coming from the House of Representatives alone. I cannot see it from the Black and White movement, civil society. I cannot see it coming from the military… I cannot see it coming from the Church… To me the only one who can do it is the President herself. But for the President to do it effectively she needs the cooperation of the rest of society.”

Sorry Mr. Neri, I and most Filipinos cannot see it coming from the President. And I certainly cannot see it when you are the President’s economic or education or whatever adviser.

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February 28, 2008

DANTE MADRIAGA’S EXPLOSIVE EXPOSÉ and GAITE’S SORRY TALE | # | Current events — jamalashley @ 12:49 am

 

The newest witness, Dante Madriaga in the Senate investigation of the ZTE-NBN madriagascandal is the exact opposite of Jun Lozada. Both are electrical / electronics engineers. While Jun is Chinese white, small, fragile-looking, crybaby, soft-spoken and very respectful, Dante is Filipino dark, big, tough-looking, tough-talking and very confident.

Filipinos love underdogs. Most Filipinos’ instinct is to shield the small crybaby from the “dark forces”. But with the tough-talking roughneck, the natural instinct of most Filipinos is to let him be. He looks strong enough to fight his own battles.

This is quite unfortunate. One should never judge a book by its cover. From both their testimonies, as well as the others’ testimonies, I infer that Jun Lozada was Romulo Neri’s hitman or henchman. On the other hand, Dante Madriaga, looked to me like a no nonsense technical man who could be Leo San Miguel’s errand boy.

But before going to Madriaga’s fearless exposé, let us first look at Gaite’s nose-lengthening tale.

GAITE

Deputy Executive Manny Gaite appeared once again at the Senate. But this time, it is doubtful if anybody believed his testimony at all. Senator Joker Arroyo asked everyonegaite to have an open mind concerning Gaite. He said that Gaite’s brother is a priest and his sister is a nun. And like Jun Lozada, there are also priests and nuns praying for Gaite. Really!!?!

Gaite was Senator Arroyo’s Executive Assistant when he was President Cory Aquino’s Executive Secretary. Gaite has been working for the government since President Marcos’s time. He is not a career bureaucrat. He is a career political appointee.

Manny Gaite wants people to believe that he gave Jun Lozada, practically a stranger to him, half a million pesos out of his own pocket because he pitied Lozada. Lozada texted him that he was running out of money abroad and had no winter clothes. Being a Good Samaritan, he immediately gave P 500,000.00 to Jun’s brother to be sent to him abroad.

First, Jun did not ask money from him. Even if he insinuated, Jun never gave a specific amount. So why did he give half a million pesos (US $ 12,500.00)  instead of 50,000 pesos like what Mike Defensor did or even P 200,000.00 ?

Second, he gets a salary of P35,000 to 40,000 as Deputy Executive Secretary. So where did he get his money?

He claimed that he got it from a fund he borrowed from his uncle, which would be used for the renovation of his in-law’s house. Ooops, that does not seem to be a typical human action. Nobody would give away a huge amount of money to a stranger, especially if that money is meant for other people’s use.

Senator Arroyo explained that even though he is a senator, the Gaites (the Gaite clan) are richer than him. They come from the same province in Bicol.

Perhaps in 1986, the Gaites were richer than the Arroyos. But now, that would be impossible. Joker Arroyo has been in power – from Executive Secretary to Congressman to Senator – since 1986. The money spent by Arroyo just for his TV ads in the last senatorial elections is already proof that he is a very rich man.

Besides, Manny Gaite’s declared worth amounts to only a few million pesos.

Third, the piece of paper which Jun’s brother signed indicating that he received the money did not even indicate Gaite’s name. Why would anybody lend a big amount to anyone without even indicating his, the lender’s, name? It only means that the money was not a loan but a gift.

I am sure that Gaite does not think that the Senators are gullible. It takes either courage or total lack of self-respect to lie, under oath, in front of senators, the media people, and the millions of people watching TV and listening to the radio.

Before this happened, practically everyone in the government – all administrations from Marcos to GMA – have nothing but good words to say about Gaite. If this is the kind of person that government people are proud of, then the Filipinos are really doomed.

Come to think of it, how could the supposedly human rights and anti-Marcos activist, Joker Arroyo get Gaite as his E.A. when Gaite was working with the Marcos administration? And how did Gaite smoothly transfer from a very lucrative post in the Erap administration (as undersecretary of Presidential Committee on Flagship Projects and Programs under Aventajado) to a very sensitive post in Gloria’s administration. Gaite must be one smooth operator.

MADRIAGA – the ZTE Bomb

Lozada revealed to us the corruption involved from the point of view of NEDA’s head

madriaga
MADRIAGA

(Sec. Neri). Madriaga gave us a more comprehensive picture as it is viewed from the source itself – ZTE, the Chinese firm involved in this scandal.

Dante Madriaga is an Electrical Engineering graduate of UP (Class ’66) and attended Texas A&M University. He did not say whether he got what degree from Texas A&M. He said he was the head of the Design Team of the ZTE-NBN project and was the liaison officer to NEDA, CICT AND TELOF.

 

FIRST HAND KNOWLEDGE

According to Mr. Madriaga, the Filipino group in the Fil-Chinese consortium was composed of Ruben Reyes, Gen. Quirino de la Torre, Benjamin Abalos and Leo San Miguel. San Miguel was his immediate superior. Reyes was the leader of the group. Gen. de la Torre was the Financier.

According to Sen. Lacson, de la Torre was formerly Comptroller of PNP.

A very important and revealing fact that he said was that the initial true cost (excluding profits) of the project was US $ 50 MILLION. This is FIRST HAND knowledge since he was the Head of the Design Team.

According to Madriaga, the Consortium added US $ 80 million to the cost. This information is still FIRST HAND knowledge because he has to be told how much cost he would present it to CICT or whatever group. He told the Senate that it was important to see profit margins from the beginning to appreciate the “exponential” rise of the profits.

The SECOND HAND knowledge is the information allegedly told to him by his boss, Leo San Miguel that half of the amount would go to the Chinese group while the other half would go to the Filipino group.

Then he said that to “match ARESCOM coverage”, they had to redesign the project. The new cost was US $ 109 Million but would be presented as US $ 189 Million. This is still FIRST HAND knowledge.

Later, they had to redesign the project again because the government did not want any satellites. So the new project was peddled at around US $ 269 (or US $ 262) Million. The overprice (profits plus commissions) was US $ 140 Million.  This is still FIRST HAND KNOWLEDGE.

This (260 plus million dollars) was the price they presented to CICT and TelOf. This is corroborated by Jun Lozada who testified that the initial price was around US $ 260 Million with “commissions” amounting to US $ 130 Million.

(See my post Jun Lozada, Police And Senate Play Hide And Seek )

Mr. Madriaga then said that later, they had to redesign the project again so that it will have 100 % coverage. The new “selling price” was US $ 329 Million Dollars. The “profits” for both groups amount to US $ 199 MILLION. This is still FIRST HAND knowledge.

The new selling price was corroborated by Mr. Lozada’s and Mr. Formoso’s testimonies.

The above information alone is already very telling. It gives a fuller picture. In the Jun Lozada testimony, it appears that all the commission goes to Mr. Abalos. Somehow, the Chinese partners appeared clean businessmen who just agreed to whatever commissions Mr. Abalos wanted. Mr. Madriaga made it very clear that the Chinese were just as greedy as the Filipino counterparts. In fact, whatever amount the Filipino group wanted, they wanted exactly the same for themselves.

And Mr. Madriaga pointed out that he believes that the Chinese are even getting higher. Of course, the Chinese can get the supplies at a discount. And they would not need to divulge the discount to the Filipinos. This also explains why there is no problem from the Chinese side (the bank, the government, etc.)

Mr. Madriaga’s scenario is more logical and more comprehensive than Mr. Lozada’s.

Aside from the above, Mr. Madriaga also had very interesting information, based on first hand knowledge.

He said that Asst. Secretary Frank Perez, son of former Sec. Nani Perez objected to the costs and design of the project. Madriaga was told not to worry because “protektado tayo dito” (We are protected here). And so, Perez was immediately replaced by Formoso as the government officer-in-charge for the project.

This partly explains Formoso’s staunch defense of the project. It also gives the Senate the chance to call Perez to testify. And quite importantly, this tells the people that there are good people in government but they are immediately silenced if they don’t tow the line.

SECOND HAND KNOWLEDGE

Mr. Madriaga’s testimony on how the commission pie would have been shared and the various advances made is hearsay because it is second hand knowledge. But first, he has two sources – Mr. Leo San Miguel and Ms. Fan Yang, the comptroller of ZTE.

Second, the information provided to him must be given the benefit of the doubt until the sources categorically deny them and that these sources are proven more credible than Mr. Madriaga.

Third, this gives the Senate the reason to call on the sources – Mr. San Miguel and Ms. Fan Yang.

The information provided by Mr. Madriaga based on what Mr. San Miguel and Ms. Fan Yang told him are:

– The First Couple are in on the kickbacks

– Advances to the Filipino group totaled US $ 41 MILLION

– US $ 30 MILLION was given to the First Couple “in aid of elections”

– Payments were made in Hong Kong through Cayman Islands

– The President was forced to go to China to sign because that was the Chinese condition in order to release  the P 30 M advance money.

– The ZTE-NBN contract was not lost. ASEC Formoso was forced to say it was lost because he was afraid to show the contract to telecom people and other businessmen in that particular affair. Madriaga said that if the telecom people saw the contract, they would immediately see the huge overprice.
Mr. Madriaga’s testimony completes the picture of the ZTE-NBN Scandal. Mr. Neri could not possibly add to this except if he will say that the President herself knew about the anomalies, other than the P200 Million bribe offer of Mr. Abalos.

MADRIAGA’S CREDIBILITY

There are news reports that say Madriaga could be a Trojan horse or  a pakawala (roughly a loose cannon or a pawn) of the government. I simply fail to see any logic in that. Madriaga revealed a lot more damaging information than Lozada. How could he be a pawn of Malacanang? If he would recant later, then that could only mean that he received great incentives from some party. That is why the Senate should give Madriaga ample security protection.

PEOPLE AS THE JUDGE

The Senate hearings are there merely in aid of legislation. They can recommend other actions like asking the Ombudsman or the Justice Department to file charges against some people.

But, to me, the most important function of the Senate hearings is to conduct impartial and thorough investigation of alleged anomalies in full view of the public through the broadcast and even online and print media. The ultimate judge of the culpability of the accused is the Filipino people as a whole. It thus behooves the Filipino people to follow the Senate investigation carefully, analyze the various evidences provided, and assess the credibility of the witnesses.  And each one of us should decide the guilt or innocence of everyone concerned. Sovereignty resides with the people.

Like many Filipinos of my generation and older, I memorized the Gettyburg Address in school. I was around 12 years old then, but I still remember what the good Abe Lincoln said: …” the government (is) of the people, by the people and for the people.”  We, as citizens, must never forget that.

More Power to the Filipino people!

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March 11, 2008

LEO SAN MIGUEL CONTRADICTS LOZADA, DE VENECIA AND MADRIAGA | # | Current eventsZTE-NBN — jamalashley @ 2:21 pm

 

The Senate’s ZTE-NBN hearing is now is now recessed for lunch. The committees are in the process of interviewing Mr. Leo San Miguel, Technical Consultant of ZTE and boss of Dante Madriaga.

The “surprise” witness turned out a surprise even to the senators. Leo San Miguel, instead of corroborating the others’ testimonies, contradicted them. Despite some of the senator’s (mainly Jinggoy’s) confusing questions, the testimony of San Miguel, so far, is at best suspicious, and most probably is false.

San Miguel claims that he was the Technical Adviser or Consultant of ZTE for the NBN project. He is not paid a monthly retainer but only reimbursed for “out of pocket” expenses and a success fee of one-half percent (0.5 %) of the project cost (in this case, around US$ 1.6 Million).

For his “out-of-pocket expenses”, he claims that he had got 3-4 million pesos reimbursements while others were paid directly by ZTE. Wow, with ‘expenses’ like that, who needs a retainer fee?

And despite the big amounts involved, San Miguel claims that there was NO CONTRACT of services involved. My, my!! He said that that is normal in his line of business. What line of business is that? Monkey business?

And there were no receipts. San Miguel said he was usually paid in dollars in China. He admitted he never declared the money he was bringing in upon re-entering the country,

PINOCCHIO

Instead of behaving like a St. Michael, Leo San Miguel was more like Pinocchio with his bagful of lies. He denied any knowledge of commissions or kickbacks whatsoever.

Yet Mr. de Venecia III testified again that San Miguel was in the Dec. 27 meeting in China with Ben Abalos, and himself (Joey). Joey said that Abalos mentioned about the 130 million dollar commission and that San Miguel was there. San Miguel denied he heard anything to that effect.

He even denied he was in the meeting where Mike Arroyo, First Gentleman told Joey to back off. Messrs. De Venecia III, Lozada and Madriaga all testified that San Miguel was there.

TECHNICAL MAN

San Miguel kept on reiterating that he was just a technical man and was never interested in “commissions.” Technical men do not work without a contract. And technical men do not travel internationally so much – more than twice a month. When businessmen talk about business, the technical matters are usually taken cared of in the offices.

ABALOS

San Miguel claims that his conversations with Abalos were limited to the “hi, hello” variety yet it was shown that he was with Abalos in several meetings here and in China, even staying in the same hotel and paid for by General de la Torre.

Despite San Miguel’s denials, Abalos’s participation in the deal was clearly verified and corroborated by San Miguel’s testimony. Why would Abalos be present in several meetings here and abroad if he was not involved in the deal?

MYSTERIOUS SIGNATURE

Mr. San Miguel even denied his signature in the Scope of Work he signed with Madriaga and a ZTE official. It was just a Scope of Work. It is not an important document at all. He had already admitted to hiring Madriaga and paying him 150,000 pesos a month. (Madraiga earlier testified he was paid only 100,000 pesos a month).

He immediately asked the committee to hire experts to verify his signature. It seems that he already had it planned to deny his signature in whatever document would be produced. He produced a Credit Card to verify his signature. But credit cards can be re-issued any time. When asked for his Driver’s License, he showed his license, which was WITHOUT a signature. How is that possible?

When he was asked if the signature on the document was similar to his, he immediately said that it was not because the N was written wrongly and there was a g in the end or something of the sort. In a word, it was REHEARSED. He knew exactly what to say.

TONGPATS

There’s a new word in town – TONGPATS. Madriaga submitted email letters alleged from San Miguel where he talked of “tongpats” (patong said backwards) or “commissions” or kick backs.

MY THEORY

When Mr. Madriaga surfaced, I had a pet theory. It goes like this: Because the NBN deal will not push through anymore, San Miguel thought up of a ploy. Madriaga was the bait for Malacanang. Because of Madriaga’s testimony, Malacanang people would want to get their hands on San Miguel at whatever cost. San Miguel then can negotiate for a good price. If the price is right, San Miguel would go to the Senate and deny everything. It was easy to do so because there were no paper or money trails.

Madriaga might or might not be in on the scheme.

But even if this theory is correct, good investigation and questioning from the Senate panel can still eke out the truth and disprove San Miguel’s testimony.

And more importantly, the people can discern for themselves what is true and what is false.

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March 12, 2008

GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO FOUND HER ANGEL – SAN MIGUEL | # | Current eventsSocio-PoliticalZTE-NBN — jamalashley @ 11:48 pm

 

If GMA was praying for an angel to help her in the on-going ZTE-NBN Senate hearings, a lion of an angel (St. Michael) came to her rescue – Leo San Miguel. San Miguel suffered almost 12 hours of interrogation by the Senate panel sitting side by side with his detractors – Dante Madriaga, Joey de Venecia and Jun Lozada.

sanmiguel
Leo San Miguel

The very formal San Miguel immediately laid down his premises. He is a “Technical Man”, he said, and was only concerned with the technical aspects of the NBN project. He had neither the inclination nor the opportunity to know anything about overpricing, commissions, kick-backs or advances. In all the meetings he attended, he was there only as the technical resource person.

His position was easy to defend – if there were only one opposing voice. It would be a case of He said / He said. But there were at least three opposing voices. So it was a case of He said / They said.

TECHNICAL MAN

As Mr. Madriaga said, a person of the caliber or stature of Mr. San Miguel could not possibly be just a “Technical Man.” Mr. Madriaga repeated his assertion that all technical matters were handed out to him and his team by San Miguel. They were the Technical Men.

San Miguel, who was the Founder of HOME Cable TV, is a multi-millionaire. He looks and speaks like a well-educated man. He admitted to have bought and recently sold a 40 million peso house in McKinley (Road, I presume). He appears to me as richer than Jun Lozada, former President and CEO of state-owned Philippine Forest Corporation and who hobnobs with Cabinet members and even the First Gentleman although he claims to be a mere Probinsyanong Intsik (Chinese provincial).

San Miguel and Lozada may have started as technical men but they have since graduated to a different level – the wheeling-dealing men.

For those who know the workings of government-business relations, technical men do not socialize with CEOs and Cabinet officials.

In the case of the ZTE-NBN deal, Mr. Madriaga is a Technical Man. He studied at UP and graduated from Texas A&M  University. Engineering-wise, he is better educated than Lozada and San Miguel.  He can be considered a “successful man” and one the country’s top people in his line of business. He claims to be the “chief designer/ consultant of ZTE Project” and has a “Scope of Work” document with his signature as well as Leo San Miguel’s and ZTE Manager Wang Feng. But he was never a part in the meetings  among ZTE, the “Filipino Group”, Joey de Venecia, Sec. Neri, Sec. Mendoza and COMELEC Chair Abalos.

Even in the meeting where the First Gentleman allegedly told Joey de Venecia to back off, Madriaga testified that he was brought along to Wack Wack by San Miguel but was not part of the meeting.

TECHNICAL MAN’S JOB

technical man 2
TECHNICAL MAN

A technical man’s job is to make sure the project is technically feasible. It is not his job to drive his clients around or “to make his clients happy.”

San Miguel said that being a technical man, he was unconcerned with commissions. He has no knowledge whatsoever about commissions. Technical men usually do not want any surprises. When they design their project or study, they need to know everything about it, especially how it should be presented to the clients and how it should be tailored to the needs of everyone.

And in any technical study, COSTS are always taken into consideration. If one designs a system or does a project study, costs inevitably comes in because in the end, the project will be judged on its costs and prices. The best system design — railway, pipeline, broadband network, etc. — is worth nothing if no one will buy it.

TECHNICAL MAN’S CELLPHONE

One way to know exactly who is the technical man and who is the wheeler-dealer or skilled entrepreneur or enterprising broker or agent is to know how many cell phones he has and how frequently he uses it / them. Technical men, although tech savvy, needs only one cellphone and at most, two SIM cards.

Wheeler-dealers live through their phones. Once, I met a guy who invited me to his apartment and showed off his dozen or so phones in the living room. There were no cell phones then but he could have just got a PABX with 12 lines.

Wheeler-dealers usually have several cellphones, extra batteries and chargers.

Senator Lacson said that San Miguel has several cellphones and throws away his SIM cards every so often. I don’t understand why.

NOTHING TECHNICAL

Jun Lozada belied San Miguel’s claim that he (San Miguel) knew nothing about kickbacks or commissions. He said that he met with COMELEC Chair Ben Abalos and San Miguel at least five times and in all those occasions, they did not talk about anything technical.

Lozada specifically recounted the time when he met with Mr. Abalos and Mr. San Miguel at the Wack Wack Club President’s office where they talked mostly about the huge commissions.

Mr. Joey de Venecia categorically stated that Mr. San Miguel knew about the US$130 Million commissions and the advances because that was the agenda of their Dec. 27, 2006 meeting. In that particular meeting, De Venecia said that Ms. Fan Yang stood up and asked about the advances.

De Venecia also said that San Miguel was in the meeting with the China Ex-Im Bank people at Sec. Neri’s office at NEDA. The agenda there was financial and nothing technical.

FULL OF HOLES

Lozada told ANC (ABS-CBN News Channel) that San Miguel’s testimony is Puro Butas or Full of Holes.

San Miguel was asked if he had ever met with Mike Arroyo, the First Gentleman. He said no. When asked if he was in the meeting at Wack Wack when the FG allegedly told de Venecia to “Back off”, he said he was “in the vicinity.”

When De Venecia said that San Miguel was in the room, San Miguel said that he was there only for technical things. At this point the gallery let out a sound of disbelief.

Later, he denied he was in that meeting.

In the previous hearing, Madriaga said that he was in Wack Wack together with San Miguel, who was in the room with FG, Joey and company.

Lozada also belied San Miguel’s statement that he (San Miguel) met with Secretary Mendoza and Jun Lozada together twice. Lozada claimed that he had never been in a meeting where Secretary Mendoza and San Miguel were both there.

For Joey de Venecia, “walang totoong sinabi” si San Miguel. He said that Abalos wanted to see him and sent San Miguel to his house. His father, JDV then called him to say that Abalos had been looking for him for two weeks and asked him to meet Abalos in his (the father’s) house.

This was to counter San Miguel’s statement that at the meeting in the Speaker’s house, the Speaker told the people there “Let’s not forget my son. Let’s work together.”

Madriaga said that it was “incredible” that San Miguel doesn’t know about the “tongpats”. He said that that very word came from him (San Miguel) as evidenced by the email allegedly sent by San Miguel to Madriaga.

GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL

San Miguel was repeatedly asked by the senators if he met a government official just before coming to the Senate hearing. He kept on saying he did not.

Then Senator Madrigal asked about Mr. Agana. At first San Miguel pretended not to know any Agana. The Senator said, “Yacqui?” (I am not sure how the name is spelled but it was pronounced by them as YA-KI). Then, San Miguel remembered. He was an old friend he met in the morning before the Senate hearing.

When asked if he knew what Agana’s position was, he said he did not know but then, on second thought, he said he heard it mentioned in previous Senate hearings. “Agana is with USEC Manny Gaite,” he said.

Senator Madrigal said that Agana is the PLLO (Presidential Legislative Liaison Officer). “Isn’t Agana a government official and that San Miguel met with him just before the Senate hearing?,” the Senator asked.

Marcelino Agana IV is one of the many people charged by Senator Jamby Madrigal for obstruction of justice.

Once again, San Miguel was caught lying – in full view of millions of TV viewers.

One wonders if Mr. Gaite sent his assistant to deliver another big envelope full of money to help a distressed stranger.

ABALOS

At first, San Miguel denied any knowledge of Abalos’s connection with the ZTE-NBN deal. Then he admitted to meeting Abalos five to six times. When asked by Sen. Estrada if he traveled with Abalos, he answered, “I don’t remember”.

Senator Estrada asked if he remembers traveling with Abalos to Hong Kong. San Miguel said he couldn’t recall doing so.

Senator Cayetano helped San Miguel remember by asking if he remembered staying in the same hotel with Abalos.

Finally, San Miguel’s memory was working again and he recalled staying in the same hotel with Abalos and the other Filipinos in the group. He admitted that the hotel accommodation was paid with the credit card of Gen. de la Torre.

San Miguel’s memory was a bit awaken when Senator Estrada showed everyone a list of all the overseas travels of San Miguel and others and Senator Cayetano mentioned about the hotel and credit card.

When it was time for administration senator Ponce-Enrile’s turn to ask, San Miguel suddenly recovered some of his memory. He readily admitted meeting Abalos 5 to 6 times. He was asked to recount each meeting. He did say the circumstance of the meetings but he maintained that he heard nothing, spoke nothing and probably even saw nothing.

In the 4th meeting with Abalos, San Miguel suddenly regained his full memory. The meeting was held at Speaker JDV’s house, he said. Abalos was there and so were Jimmy Paz, Ruben Reyes, Joey and the ZTE people.

To explain what the meeting was about, he introduced his answer with “The way it was transmitted to me by ZTE…”  Why, wasn’t he there at the meeting? Was he a moron that ZTE people had to explain what the meeting was all about? Even if the ZTE people explained to him before hand what the meeting was about, by then he already knew what it was all about because he was there. He was not asked what the ZTE people told him about it.

But then, he suddenly became talkative. He wanted to give more information. He narrated that Speaker De Venecia said, “Let’s not forget my son. Let’s work together.”

For the very first and only time, San Miguel remembered what another person said in a meeting! It just so happened that it was an indirect attack on the De Venecias.

He said that he also met with Abalos in China together with Joey, the Filipino Group and ZTE officials.

For whatever it is worth, San Miguel’s testimony effectively confirmed that Mr. Abalos was truly a part of the project and not just a disinterested observer as Mr. Abalos claims.

EMAIL ATTACHMENTS

For me, the greatest surprise of the hearing was the supposed computer expert Leo San Miguel accusing Madriaga of tampering the email attachments and asserting that anybody who knows computer and the Internet can edit an attachment and still make it appear as if it was the original attachment sent by another party.

This got the ire of Senator Lacson who warned San Miguel not test his patience or he would ask that San Miguel be cited for contempt.

I have no idea where where San Miguel got this notion about editing email attachments.

Take a look at this tip from AppSynthesis 

Technical Tips from our Help Desk

Q:       I received an Excel document via email, made a few changes, and sent it back to the originator. They claim my edits are not in the document. I know I saved the document, so what is the problem?

A:       When you receive a file attachment through email and open the attachment from the email message, a copy of the attachment is created in your Windows/Temp directory. You can edit, save, and even reopen the document (through the Recent Files option under File), but the file you are working with is no longer the file included in the email. The email attachment remains separate and unchanged. 

           

As this tip from the website of a digital fim says, you can do whatever you want to do with an attachment but  BUT THE FILE YOU ARE WORKING WITH IS NO LONGER THE FILE INCLUDED IN THE EMAIL. THE EMAIL ATTACHMENT REMAINS SEPARATE AND UNCHANGED. 

So who said Leo San Miguel was a Technical Man? He is not even computer savvy.

PERJURY

From Wikipedia: 

Perjury is the act of lying or making verifiably false statements on a material matter under oath or affirmation in a court of law or in any of various sworn statements in writing. Perjury is a crime because the witness has sworn to tell the truth and, for the credibility of the court, witness testimony must be relied on as being truthful. Perjury is considered a serious offense as it can be used to usurp the power of the courts, resulting in miscarriages of justice.

 

It is quite obvious that Mr. San Miguel was guilty of perjury during the last Senate hearing. First, his answers contradicted the testimonies of three other people. Second, his answers were simply not logical and do not conform to all the known rules of human behavior. Third, on at least one occasion, he was proven to have lied. This was the case when he said he never met a government official prior to attending the hearing. Upon further questioning, he admitted he did meet a government official during the said period.

Should the Senate let San Miguel perjure himself and get away with it?

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P.S.:

Former Pres. Joseph Estrada was kicked out of office for a measly amount of money compared to the millions of dollars involved in the ZTE-NBN scandal. Estrada was very popular among the masses up to the very end of his rule. Yet he was deposed. But Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Estrada’s successor, was able to hold on to her office up to the end of her prescribed term.

From the start of her first term, she was dogged by scandals, impeachment attempts and mutinies, yet she survived. Because of the Hello Garci election scandal, her popularity dropped to GMA SWS NET satisfaction ratingnegative net satisfaction rating, her rating never turned positive again.

With the ZTE-NBN scandal, her net satisfaction rating dropped to -38. By the end of her term, she was extremely unpopular such that her party’s standard bearer did not even want her endorsement. Nobody wanted her endorsement except herself, who ran for Congress in her hometown.

The ZTE-NBN scandal showed the huge amounts of money that goes to government officials and influence peddlers.  These kickbacks are not just give-aways by foreign governments. This kind of money becomes part of huge loans; loans that will have to be paid of by the Filipino people.

The very popular movie actor-turned politician, ex President Joseph Estrada was deposed by the people for just a few million pesos worth of corruption and suspicion for the double murder of publicist Bubby Dacer and his driver and the attempt to arrest then warlord Governor Chavit Singson.

But Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had so many scandals and crises like the Oakwood mutiny, Fertilizer Fund scam, obvious cheating in the presidential election of 2004, Hello Garci scandal, Hacienda Luisita massacre, 2004 SuperFerry 14 bombing, Executive Order 464 (which prevents Cabinet officials and military officers from attending Congressional hearings), PP1017 or declaration state of emergency (Martial Law), Manila Peninsula siege, Batasang Pambansa bombing, Euro Generals scandal, and the Jun Lozada-NBN/ZTE scandal.

If that were not enough, there was the Ampatuan- Maguindanao massacre. Arroyo’s government armed to the teeth the Ampatuan clan as she used them as leverage against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Recovered from the Ampatuans’ residences where boxes and boxes of high-powered machine guns and ammunition, with the boxes labeled “Department of National Defense”. There was even a government-issued armored vehicle in the Ampatuan garage.

As I wrote in my blogs before, the Ampatuans could not have planned the massacre of journalists and influential Moro politicians without the knowledge and cooperation of the police and military. And perhaps even with the President’s knowledge.

Arroyo boasted of creating a Strong Republic. What she created actually was a Strong Presidency. Arroyo perfected the use of the full powers of the Presidency which made the public powerless. But KARMA is more powerful. Her successor followed her lead and used the full power of the Presidency to remove the Supreme Court Chief Justice and put her to jail, or hospital arrest.

The Filipino people, who became the darlings of the world after the EDSA revolution of 1986, has become so powerless in relation to very powerful Presidents.

It looks like the fates of Presidents are now in the hands of – not the people but of – the succeeding presidents. Aquino had Arroyo jailed. Duterte probably will do the same for Aquino. And the next president will do the same for Duterte.

Woe to the Filipino people!

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The JUN LOZADA – ZTE-NBN Saga Part 1

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TECHNICAL MAN and MORE

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