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PIA Press Release
2008/02/09

DOTC officials puzzled over Lozada's actual role in aborted NBN-ZTE project

Manila (9 February) -- Officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) expressed puzzlement over the actual role of Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. in the aborted national broadband network (NBN)-ZTE project.

In a press conference at the New Executive Building (NEB) in the Malacanang complex yesterday afternoon, February 8, DOTC Assistant Secretary Lorenzo Formoso III said Lozada never participated in the various assessments and studies on the NBN-ZTE project.

Lozada was the chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Philippine Forest Corp. ((PFC), an agency under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), but he resigned his post last Wednesday.

Formoso and former Chairman Ramon Sales of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) said they never saw even the "shadow" of Lozada while the $329-million NBN-ZTE project was being evaluated by the DOTC.

In his testimony before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee today, Lozada said he was an unpaid consultant of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). For his efforts, he would be treated to snacks and lunch by his friend, then NEDA Director General Romulo Neri, Lozada said.

Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza also questioned certain acts of Lozada on the ZTE-NBN deal since he had no direct participation in the said broadband project.

"Iyong sinasabi ni Lozada, kung consultant siya ng NEDA bakit siya dumidiretso ng pakikipag-usap sa mga opisyales ng China's ZTE Corp. Ang NEDA dapat nag e-evaluate iyan eh. Ang dapat makipag-usap sa contracting parties iyong nag-iimplement ng projects which is CICT and DOTC. As Asec Formoso and chairman Sales said ni anino ni Mr. Jun Lozada hindi namin nakita ito, wala naman siyang signature doon sa mga papeles na umikot dito sa proyekto na ito," Mendoza said.

Mendoza said that the DOTC has an institutional committee, the technical working group which is composed of experts on legal, financial and even technical topics.

"In the case of Mr. Lozada walang participation iyan whatsoever on any technical working group in many instances of consultations. I have never met him. So. I am sorry I cannot speak for NEDA or Mr. Lozada but insofar as DOTC and CICT are concerned, mayroon kaming sariling experts. Walang nakialam sa akin. Walang normally nakipag-usap sa akin," he said.

Formoso added that NEDA also has its own group that evaluates projects and it has a complete team where there is an infrastructure group that evaluates proposals submitted to it.

Formoso stressed that he had not met Lozada in any of the NEDA meetings particularly on the ZTE-NBN project.

"I have never met Mr. Lozada. I have never seen him sa NEDA because may mga meetings kami sa NEDA in preparations for some presentations for example. I have never met him nor seen him during those meetings," Formoso said.

He added that normally those who review project proposals are those with official capacities because this is a governmental function.

"So, normally, you have to have a government authority in order to be part of the review process. So, iyon lang ang hindi ko alam kung where he comes in, whether he is an official NEDA consultant or saan siya associated with," he said.

He said that in the case of DOTC, they know the responsibility of the organic personnel of their department and its important accountable officers undertake the review of contracts. "Dapat ang gumawa noon ay iyong mga accountable officers."

"NEDA has its own structural group like technical, financial, so I would have thought that he (Lozada) had gone to that process so I would leave my answer because I don't' know where he came from. As a personal consultant of Secretary Neri, because that is the way he is appearing now, then I leave to Secretary Neri to clarify kung ano ang role ni Mr. Lozada," Formoso added NPC to monitor media killing cases.

The National Press Club (NPC) will now be able to monitor cases involving the slay of media personalities, owing to a recent memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed with the Department of Justice (DOJ)'s Task Force 211 or the working group tasked to look into extra-judicial killings.

Through Task Force 211's "Bantay Katarungan" program, the NPC received the exclusive right to monitor cases of killing of newsmen.

Cases now under the NPC monitoring include the gun-slays of Fernando Batul, formerly of Puerto Princesa Radio, Apolinario "Poly" Pobeda, DWI-AM anchor, Dennis Ramos, Remate/Kabayan reporter, Rolando Ureta, DYKR commentator, Rolly Canete, a block-timer radio announcer, Klein Cantoneros, another block-timer, Elpidio "Ely" Binoya, MBC-DZRH station manager, Alberto Martinez, radio commentator of "Radio Natin", Philip Agustin, Starline Times Recorder and Endrinal Roel, broadcaster and publisher of Metro News and DZRC.

Task Force 211 head, DOJ Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor, said it is now the NPC's task to monitor the status of the above-mentioned cases.

He added that all assistance will be provided to the NPC to see it that the cases reach a successful conclusion.

Blancaflor and NPC president Roy Mabasa signed the MOA last Monday.

Under the agreement, accredited volunteers will personally attend the scheduled hearings of cases being monitored, apprise themselves of the proceedings and record incidents that transpire in the cases they are assigned to.

In the MOA, Task Force 211, is obligated to share information and documents regarding cases identified and validated as involving political violence or extra-judicial killings.

Task Force 211 will also provide volunteers with the case numbers, names of parties involved, nature and background of the cases, prosecution office or court where the case is being held or tried, schedule of hearings and specific stage of prosecution.

Likewise, the task force is also bound by the MOA to provide reasonable compensation and ensure the safety of accredited individuals while attending to their tasks.

The NPC, on the other hand, will see to it that all its accredited volunteers are attending to the cases assigned to them continuously and comply with the policies set up by Task Force 211.

Blancaflor noted that the NPC is the third non-government organization to join the program, with law students from the Lyceum of the Philippines (LP) and Angeles University Foundation (AUF) School of Law, as two of the earlier volunteers.

Likewise, Mabasa said the MOA is one step in stopping extra-judicial killing and violence in the country.

He added that he expects no scarcity of volunteers to rally to the cause. (PNA) [top]

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