Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Senate ZTE-NBN report---a review

Finally, after thirteen gruelling Senate sessions, the Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Senator Richard Gordon released its report on the ZTE-NBN deal. The deal, if you remember, was rescinded by the Arroyo administration due to some "anomalous" issues. The deal involves transforming the entire government system into an IT based, broadband system.

One of the proponents of the deal, Joey de Venecia III, came out of the woodwork and said that the deal was given to a Chinese corporation, ZTE, under scandalous circumstances. According to De Venecia III, there was no bidding, just a negotiated bid. ZTE officials reportedly colluded with DOTC officials, led by DOTC secretary Leandro Mendoza, Elmer Soneja and others to give the deal to the Chinese. Former COMELEC chairman Benjamin Abalos also dipped his fingers into the deal.

De Venecia III said it was First Gentleman Mike Arroyo who cooked the deal. Mrs. Arroyo's name was dragged into the controversy after former NEDA chief Romulo Neri revealed to her that Abalos was trying to goad him to support the project.

First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and his wife, Mrs. Arroyo played golf with ZTE officials in Shenzhen Golf Club shortly before the signing of the contract. However, in the contract signing, which Mrs. Arroyo and then Chief of Staff Michael Defensor attended, DOTC officials reportedly lost the copy of the contract.

A newspaper columnist wrote about the deal and the losing bidder, Joey de Venecia III's Amsterdam Holdings, had a press conference. After the press con, the stinking deal got worse.

Jun Lozada, a close in of former NEDA chief became involved when he was "exiled" in Hongkong to prevent him from exposing the deal. When he came back, police escorts reportedly tried to silence him. He was "saved" my La Sallian nuns.

Lozada, De Venecia and Neri appeared before the Senate. After thirteen sessions, the Senate released the report.