GMA hits ZTE probe

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday slammed the Senate inquiry on the controversial $329 million National Broadband Network (NBN) deal between the Philippine government and China’s ZTE Corporation after Jose “Joey” de Venecia III named First Gentleman Mike Arroyo as the mystery man in the said transaction.

She also directed transportation secretary Leandro Mendoza to expound before the Supreme Court the details and benefits to the government of the said contract.

President Arroyo is optimistic that Mendoza’s appearance before the High Tribunal would shed light on the controversy, which have raised public outrage over the multi-million worth deal involving alleged bribery of several top government officials to clinch the deal.

Earlier, De Venecia III, son of House Speaker Joe De Venecia, who also submitted a proposal, spilled the beans on the controversial contract naming First Gentleman Mike Arroyo as the “mystery man’ who told him to “back off” from the transaction.

The young De Venecia claimed that the broadband deal is overpriced by more than half, which is disadvantageous to the Philippine government. He also tagged Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos Jr. as the one who brokered the contract in exchange for hefty sums of monetary consideration.

Abalos vehemently belied De Venecia’s allegation, pointing out he would rather prefer to clear himself in the proper forum.

“Iniaatas ko kay Secretary Mendoza ng DOTC na humarap at magpaliwanag sa Korte Suprema hinggil sa kaso ng National Broadband Network. Walang pamumulitika at batay sa ebidensiya ang mga proseso ng hukuman. Doon matitimbang nang wasto kung ayon sa batas at kapakanan ng bayan ang kasunduan,” the President said in her opening statement at the start of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Board meeting at Malacañang yesterday.

The President assured the public that her administration will cooperate with the Office of the Ombudsman on the graft allegations against Mendoza and other personalities involved in the scandal

“Handa ring tumulong ang pamahalaan sa pagsisiyasat ng Ombudsman sa mga paratang ng katiwalian na nakasampa na roon,” the President said.

“Sa demokrasya, natural lang ang magkatalong pananaw at posisyon. Ang mahalaga, may mga hukuman at proseso ng batas upang magdesisyon sa anumang ’di pagkakasundo sa payapang paraan ayon sa hustisya at ebidensya nang walang pamumulitika.”

“Mahalaga rin sa pag-akit ng kapital at pag-unlad ng lahat ng mamamayan ang kapayapaan. Dapat wakasan ang mga atake at pangingikil sa mga negosyong nagbibigay ng trabaho at serbisyo sa taong bayan.

Inaatasan ko ang ating sandatahang lakas na pag-ibayuhin ang depensa sa mga paninira at pagpaslang ng mga kaaway ng bayan.

Sa pakikibakang ito ng ating mga kawal, marapat igalang ang kanilang pamunuan at mga lihim militar, na napakahalaga sa pagtatanggol ng ating bansa,” the President stressed.