Thursday, November 12, 2009

No saints in ZTE-NBN deal

I read the voluminous Senate report on the ZTE-NBN deal and I must agree with Ramon Tulfo---it exposed the conspiracy of ALL ZTE-NBN actors, most notably the losing bidders and the deal cookers. I must agree with Senator Richard Gordon that the actors in this deal are all demons in barong.

It was a collusion meant to defraud government of billions of pesos worth of taxpayer's money. The loser in this deal was ZTE Corporation, which, says Joey de Venecia III, lost almost a billion pesos when they reportedly gave grease money to certain government officials.

Based on the report, the project was a laudable project, meant to develop the telecommunications infrastructure of the Philippines. The NEDA approved the project and the DOTC was the lead agency implementor.

The DOTC found a suitable tech partner in the person of ZTE Corporation, China's biggest supplier of telecomms equipment and gadgets. ZTE Corporation dealt with the DOTC officials. However, under the law, such projects should have been bidded out instead of a negotiated sale. On this part, the DOTC erred.

The bidding was just for show because at the onset, government intended really to give ZTE the project. Some "arrangements" were initiated, one of which was convincing Amsterdam Holdings local representative Joey de Venecia III to take part in the charade and just team up with ZTE. Or just, clam up, as what former COMELEC chairman Benjamin Abalos told the young De Venecia. Or "back-off" as what principal government mafia head First Gentleman Mike Arroyo said.

It seems that De Venecia III disagreed because Amsterdam Holdings want the whole pie and not a portion of it. Who would agree for 500 million pesos when you can get as much as US$ 1 BILLION for this deal? So, the younger De Venecia took on a war footing and exposed the nefarious deal before the media. That strategy backfired in the end, because everyone lost the project altogether.

De Venecia III says that he prevented the deal from happening but the transcripts say otherwise. What De Venecia III actually wanted was for the government to re-bid the project, not to shelve it. There is a gulf of difference between re-bidding and "shelving". Government opted to shelve it to shield it from further political harm.

De Venecia III did not cause the shelving of the project out of genuine concern for the people's money nor did he accomplished the feat independently without commercial compunction. The expose was actually an attempt meant to harm the winning bidders, not to protect the people's money.

For that, says the report, De Venecia III deserves to be charged with graft.

On the part of Jun Lozada, he was an unwilling witness. He just went ballistic when he felt that government was abandoning him or was intending to harm him. He cannot be a saint also since he was part of those who cooked the deal from the start. He uttered the immortal line " bubukol ito" because the "commissions" went out of line already. A commission which involved billions of pesos is simply too risky and too obvious not to be noticed. As Lozada said, it was "too greasy."Hence the other immortal line, " Moderate the Greed."

What Lozada just meant to say was it is okey to be greedy but just in "moderation", never beyond the obvious. For Lozada, corruption has its limits. Now, he knows that everything corrupt is graft. If you intend to steal even a centavo out of the people's money, that's corruption and greediness already. There is no borderline for corruption. There is only corruption and no corruption, period. But for the ZTE-NBN greedy bunch, commissions totalling multi-millions are allowable.

And it was probably God's intention that the oust Gloria movement during those times did not take off simply because it was again, premised on a wrong presumption. EDSA two was a misinterpretation and a result of cono class animosity over institutional gangsterism. If the coup succeeded in ousting Gloria in 2008, the results would still be a failure of democracy. We would have gone to the streets to protect the moderates in the corruption business, which, for me, again, is not a genuine cause for revolutions.