PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — AS the principal author with former Rep. Felicito Payumo of the landmark ‘Build-Operate- Transfer’ Law, I always insist that government should give no loan guarantees, incur no loans, no expense, no sovereign risk in the building of viable infrastructure projects.
It is in this spirit that I raised the government’s national broadband program in the conversation I had with Secretary Leandro Mendoza of the Department of Transportation and Communication, when he visited my residence. My keen interest is to see a government broadband network installed as a BOT (Build, Operate, Transfer) undertaking that requires no government subsidy, no government loan guarantee and risk, and no government loan or expense that will add to the already huge debt burden of the Filipino people.
I told Secretary Mendoza that under a BOT program, Amsterdam Holdings — in which my son is a stockholder — and the two other broadband proponents, the Chinese firm ZTE and the American company Aremscor, could compete for it in the interest of fairness and transparency.
Under a BOT arrangement, the national broadband network, I reiterate, will involve no government loan, no guaranty and no expense at all to the Filipino people. This is why I proposed to President Arroyo and to Secretaries Peter Favila, Larry Mendoza, Eduardo Ermita and Romulo Neri that the current NBN contract be cancelled altogether or revised into a BOT undertaking.
Our detractors have also started peddling lies and innuendoes about my alleged business dealings.
To the Filipino people, I say, it’s the nation’s business, and not my own, that I’ve been engaged in, over all these years that I’ve been Speaker.
I resigned from various business corporations after 1985 and when I rejoined politics in 1987 after the People Power revolution, having stayed and pioneered in the Middle East in the 1970s and 1980s, where I successfully initiated the program that led to the subsequent employment of millions of Filipino overseas workers.
I have used what political influence and advocacies I have to initiate government-to- government initiatives and projects that have brought foreign investments into our country to rebuild the Luzon railway grid, set up agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation systems and fishing ports, rehabilitate our mining industry, develop Fort Bonifacio and the economic conversion of Subic, Clark Field, Baguio City’s John Hay, and the La Union’s Poro Point under the U.S. Bases Conversion Plan.
I have not profited personally from any of these ventures.
I initiated the ongoing joint seismic exploration program in the disputed Spratlys archipelago by the public oil corporations of China, Vietnam and the Philippines — which has eased tensions in the South China Sea.
And I helped push the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) and proposed the free trade agreements with the U.S. and the European Union since I believe these will benefit our economy in the absence of a global WTO agreement.
In East Asian councils, I’m the principal advocate with the Japanese of an Asian Monetary Fund, an Asian Anti-Poverty Fund, and an ASEAN anti-disaster fund. The idea of an Asian institution to complement the IMF has been accepted in principle by some Asian parliaments. I helped successfully push the recent inclusion of the Chinese currency Yuan and the Korean Won as part of the Central Bank foreign currency reserves.
These are the projects I have been pushing for the nation. These projects were all conceived and implemented in the interest of the Filipino people.