we are yet to process and fully digest ousted Speaker jose de Venecia’s explosive claims and here comes another bombshell, more destructive and setting the nation’s political situation on indistinguishable fire.
Rodolfo ‘Jun’ Lozada, Forestry Czar and proclaimed star witness for the ZTE controversy, surfaced after being incommunicado for some time and broke his silence in a press conference held at the La Salle Gymnasium at 2am (February 7, 2008). read or listen to Lozada’s full statement. view a brief chronology of events here.
what exactly did Lozada divulge?
he basically corroborated and gave more detailed accounts of Joey de Venecia’s (JDV3) earlier allegations namely:
- former Comelec Chief Benjamin Abalos’ involvement in the deal, specifically his brokering of the ZTE contract in exchange for a $130 million kickback.
- FG Mike’s hands-on involvement in the ZTE deal and his knowledge of the overpriced contract.
- that he personally met and sat with Abalos, FG Mike and JDV3 in a meeting to discuss the ZTE deal; that in said meeting they discussed the ‘potential overpricing’ of the deal.
- that former NEDA Chair and CHED Head Romulo Neri, his friend, asked him unofficially and as a favor to ‘moderate the greeds’ of Abalos and FG Mike with regards to kickbacks from the ZTE scam.
- that he was able to come up with a proposal that he thought would be a win-win solution for everyone involved but Abalos disagreed.
- that when the ZTE scam broke out, he wished that Neri would tell everything because he feared being summoned by the Senate and felt that ‘he would not be able to lie if asked to.’
Lozada also recounted that he was ‘kidnapped’ and was asked to sign under duress certain affidavits and papers that would categorically contradict his statements in said press conference. he asked forgiveness for having signed the documents and said that he was sure ‘the public would understand.’ those same documents, in fact, are what Malacanang, the police and the Arroyo Cabinet are using to negate his revelations. presidential son Mikey Arroyo, in fact, in a TV interview, attempts to downplay the intensity of Lozada’s statements by describing this scandal as a mere he-said/she-said matter.
Lozada is still under Senate custody and is set to testify at 10am tomorrow.
who should the public believe then?
case in point #1: Lozada’s ‘kidnapping’, in my opinion, is a blatant maneuver to prevent Lozada from speaking out. why the bother and brouhaha of whisking Lozada from the airport if Malacanang did not feel the least threatened by what he could potentially reveal?
case in point #2: he corroborated JDV’s statement and was even consistent with what Neri has relented to divulge thus far. he also gave a more detailed account that, in Abalos’ words, were ‘too fantastic’ but not if one is aware of what the FG Mike and the First Family are capable of. here is a list of other unresolved controversies linked to the FG.
case in point #3: it is true that he has nothing to lose. he is a mere ‘professional probinsyanong Intsik’ who has no outstanding or significant political interest to create such a furor. the threats in his life and the pressure and stress that this scandal has caused to his family is enough reason to be forced into the situation he is in now.
case in point #4: it is always easier to believe the Lozadas of this nation than FG, Mikey, Bunye, the PNP and the rest of Malacanang’s apologists combined. this is a subjective point to bring up but there. last i heard Lozada had not been involved in any unresolved issue of bribery or corruption or betrayal of public trust. the others, well, there are just too many to mention and i am already more than exhausted from the protest actions we staged today. so there.
what does the anti-Arroyo movement have to gain?
unlike JDV (the Speaker) or Neri or other past whistle-blowers on the Arroyo administration, Lozada, stripped of government responsibility or affinity (he also resigned as Forestry Czar today) and exhausted to the bone from Palace pressure, seems prepared to tell all and side with the people. his was/is a brave act of defiance and one that deserves the public’s support. it is an act devoid of political partisanship and, though admittedly borne out of fear for his and his family’s survival, sprung from a conscience-stricken disposition. he deserves all the support of the anti-Arroyo movement and all democracy-loving citizens.
as for his revelations, they further affirmed how the Arroyo syndicate and administration is crumbling to pieces. it is losing valuable allies who could also serve as potential ‘explosive’ enemies of the administration. in the process of self-preservation and political survival, it is digging itself deeper into a grave of its own making.
as we speak, resign/impeach/ouster calls against Arroyo are gaining ground anew. the task now is to transform the political turmoil into a force that would further broaden the anti-Arroyo ranks and empower the people to call for regime change. Zobra na, Tama na, Exit na, Gloria! ###
*photo courtesy of reuters