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PIA Press Release
2008/02/11

Commentary: The Lozada puzzle

By Bong Pedalino

Tacloban City (11 February) -- Okay, so the much-hyped star witness at the dragged-on NBN-ZTE deal inquiry in the Senate has spoken, and Rodolfo Lozada, Jr., the erstwhile president of the Philippine Forest Corp., has spoken quite a lot.

But except for some other details here and there, Lozada's testimony before the Senate last week was virtually no different than what had been earlier divulged in similar hearings in the past.

Then, as the Senate probe on Friday, February 8, went on for under ten hours, it became clear -- and Lozada himself admitted this -- that he was not a direct participant on the hot issue, even as he has supposed intimate knowledge, according to him, on the extent of alleged corruption attempt(s) on the deal, he being only a personal, technical assistant to Neri on a close-friend-to-a-close-friend level only, not on an official capacity.

And from a larger perspective, Lozada is no different from former Comelec Chair Abalos in that both dipped their fingers wittingly or unwittingly in the NBN-ZTE row through contacts with friends; the former as trusted friend of Neri, the latter as reportedly a friend to the Chinese proponents, although this was oceans away from a purely Comelec function.

*******

Is Lozada a sinner or a Saint, a hero or a villain, when he finally come to his senses and faced the Senate?

The answer to that may not be a categorical "yes" or "no" for now, simply because the question is subjective, and is therefore influenced by biases, depending on one's views and appreciation of events.

One thing remains a distinct probability: the Lozada puzzle is not confined only to the walls of the Senate but may be extended to the proper judicial Courts in due time.

And he may have an army of nuns and priests who keep his faith aflame; such faith, however, must be translated into a process the Courts can evaluate, which is proof beyond reasonable doubt, amid a background of "he said, he said" scenario.

*******

What made Lozada the center of attraction at the Senate and elsewhere was not exactly the expected explosive revelations, which were hyped as a big-bang but turned out to be in the main a refresher recount of past events.

It was the highly suspicious, breath-taking, full of suspense and dramatic arrival at the airport, matched with his "disappearance", that actually made Lozada the darling in everyone's eyes, a great relief -- comic relief, even -- pervading on seeing him alive and kicking, after all.

Minus the over 24-hour hide-and-seek, it would have been just another hoo-huummm hearing day at the Senate.

*******

LOCAL FRONT: Philboxing.com website quoted Dr. Nasser Cruz, the Games and Amusement Board boxing division chief, as saying that an autopsy would have to be conducted "to determine the cause of death after a ten round bout' between the late Alex Aroy and Arnel Tadena at Villaba, Leyte, last week. This was a similar desire aired earlier by Maasin City Mayor Maloney Samaco on hearing the bad news as a quick reaction. The GAB physician noted that there was no knockdown during the ten-round fight, and Aroy was even conscious and walking all this time even as he had "complained of abdominal pains and inability to urinate." Hopefully, the GAB probe can shed light on what really happened to Aroy that caused his untimely demise.

ODDLY YOURS: Buttons on polo attire of men are attached to the right side, and the holes on which these gadgets would enter are on the left side. Dresses or blouses of women, meanwhile, are buttoned from the left, with holes to the right side. Fashion and style may have a hand in this discrepancy, but actually this has deep origin from the distant, ancient past. In the era where swords are the primary weapons of man-to-man combat, the soldier used the right hand to get the sword from the scabbard, the left hand used to unbutton his garb. Women, on the other hand, were buttoned by maids, and from the maids' point of view, it was much easier to button from the right -- left side of the wearer. (PIA) [top]

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