PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — SENATOR Juan Ponce Enrile expressed suspicion that an aide of businessman Joey de Venecia III is trying to “cover up” the depth of the participation of his father, House Speaker Jose de Venecia, in the controversial national broadband network (NBN) project.
“He is being used to cover up,” Enrile said, referring to the statements of Ernesto Garcia, managing director of Amsterdam Holdings, Inc. (AHI), a company owned by Joey and which lost the $329 million NBN project to ZTE Corporation of China.
Garcia was summoned by the joint committees of the Senate probing the contract headed by the Blue Ribbon under Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, in relation to Garcia’s letter last December to transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza, seeking favorable endorsement of AHI’s bid.
Attached to the request is a draft letter to then economics planning Secretary Romulo Neri in favor of AHI to be signed by Mendoza. A marginal note by Garcia said he is making the suggestions on behalf of Speaker De Venecia.
Garcia drew smiles from lawmakers after claiming the decision to write Mendoza was his “own initiative,” adding he does not have an idea on how the executive branch works.
“You said you are already in business for over twenty years now and yet you claimed you have no idea how the bureaucracy works,” an incredulous Enrile said.
“Of all places, why use the office of the Speaker and not the office of (House) Sgt.-at-Arms for example, if you want to clarify how the procedures (in government) works,” Enrile added.
Sen. Rodolfo Biazon also cannot suppress a smile after Garcia insisted that no one influenced him in making the letter to Mendoza and that it was his initiative to namedrop the Speaker’s office since he is working for his son.
“Bahala na ang kanyang konsensiya, alam niyang hindi ako naniniwala sa kanya” Enrile said later.
He also believed the Senate would uncover more secret moves by the House Speaker to influence major government projects when the Senate starts its probe on the Northrail project costing $503 million.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., had already filed Senate Resolution 210, asking for an inquiry into the matter.
Pimentel noted that already, $125.75 million or about P6.5 billion had already been released for the project “yet it appears to be heading nowhere.”
Pimentel added the contract had been signed in violation of RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Act.