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PGMA brands Senate NBN probe a "vaudeville act"; allows cabinet secretaries to attend probe

Manila (19 September) -- President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo tagged the Senate investigation into the National Broadband Network (NBN) probe and the revelations of Jose "Joey" de Venecia III as a "vaudeville act".

In her remarks at the opening of a policy forum in Metro Manila, Mrs. Arroyo said the public has grown tired of "tales of conspiracy" that take away attention from the real issues that the media should play up.

She said the real issues include job creation, health and education, as well as lower electricity rates in economic zones.

The President, however, allowed senior Cabinet officials to attend the Senate investigation into the $329.4-million NBN project.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said that Mrs Arroyo gave her consent in order to show that her administration had nothing to hide about the government's contract with ZTE Corp. of China.

The President allowed Secretaries Leandro Mendoza (transportation and communication) and Peter Favila (trade and industry), as well as, Chairman Romulo Neri of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and other officials linked to the contract to appear in the Senate probe,

Ermita said Mrs. Arroyo wanted to show senators and the public in general that the Executive branch was out to clear its name over the controversy.

During Tuesday's Senate hearing on the ZTE deal, the House speaker's son Jose "Joey" de Venecia III narrated how the First Gentleman pointed a finger at him and told him to "back off" from the deal.

He also claimed Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos tried to dissuade him from his bid, and enjoyed the backing of the First Gentleman for the intimidation attempts.

The younger de Venecia is a co-owner of Amsterdam Holdings Inc., the losing proponent in the broadband network project. (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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