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PIA Press Release

Senator Santiago: Who's funding Joey?

Manila (19 September) -- Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, Senate finance committee vice-chair, said that Jose de Venecia III, the accuser in the controversial NBN (National Broadband Network) deal, has to explain what group he is representing, adding that she suspects that it is not only his own corporation, Amsterdam Holdings, Inc. (AMHI) which lost in the bidding.

"He lost the bid, but he is not even trying for a rebidding. Instead, he is spraying automatic gun fire on the First Gentleman, Atty. Jose Miguel Arroyo, Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos, and DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza. This is exceedingly strange," Santiago said.

The senator said that she "smells a plot" intended to scandalize President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself, and to create intrigue between her and Jose de Venecia, Jr., Speaker of the House and father of the accuser.

"The political noise has reached very high decibel. Producing that kind of noise is very expensive. So where is the money coming from?" she said.

Santiago added that for the NBN (National Broadband Network) to be completed will need congressional approval through this year's national budget.

"The public officials involved should stop acting as if this is a done deal. It is not, and it is Congress which will have the final say," she said.

Santiago explained that congressional approval is necessary, since the NBN project would create a future debt for the country, which would require payment by the National Treasury.

Santiago said that there are five steps that should be taken for the project to be considered completed.

The first step is for the Budget department to issue an FOA, meaning Forward Obligational Authority.

The second step is for the Office of the President to issue full powers to the Finance department.

The third step is for the Finance department, on behalf of the Philippine government, to enter into a loan agreement.

The fourth step is for the Monetary Board to approve the loan.

The fifth and final step is for Congress to approve the loan through the 2008 Budget or the General Appropriations Act, in the exercise of the constitutional power to approve the budget prepared by the Office of the President. (PNA) [top]

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