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PHILIPPINES: Lozada committed an act of valor and integrity, not destabilization

AKBAYAN Citizens Action Party Rep. Risa Hontiveros said that dismissing Lozada's explosive statement as an attempt to destabilize the country would not do, saying that what Lozada divulged lays accountability on the National Broadband Network (NBN) deal at the doorstep of Malacanang Presidential Palace.
"What he said corroborates previous testimonies made by Joey De Venecia and Sec. Romulo Neri, making these allegations of corruption involving the NBN deal a sticky and unbearable truth for the President Arroyo's family," Rep. Hontiveros said. "Dismissing it would not do and we must be able to identify who is ultimately accountable for this controversy. The Arroyo family should face the music to put a closure to this issue."

She lauded Lozado for his bravery and sense of integrity. "The strongest critique that any decent Filipino could do in light of a government known for the basest form of fraud and corruption is to stand up for truth and justice. The symbol of Filipino integrity and valor is not carried by high officials, certainly not those in Malacaņang, but by people like Lozada. We hope that he would be steadfast and unforgiving in this journey to unearth the truth behind the NBN anomaly," Rep. Hontiveros said.

The deputy minority leader, meanwhile, chastised the Office of the Ombudsman for sitting on a case filed by AKBAYAN against former Commission on Election (COMELEC) Chair Benjamin Abalos. She warned that Abalos might go into hiding, especially with Lozada's account on Abalos' role in the controversial deal.

"We fear that Abalos would do a Bedol to evade these charges," Rep. Hontiveros said.

"It has been four months since the criminal charges against Abalos was filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, and nothing has happened since then. This delay is not only unacceptable, it also fuels suspicion that Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez is out to protect someone," Rep. Hontiveros said.

"Once Lozada makes his testimony formal before the Senate Ribbon Committee, we would consider using it to supplement our complaint against Abalos," she said. "However, the Ombudsman doesn't even have to wait for Lozada's testimony to act on the complaint. The statements made by Sec. Romulo Neri and Joey De Venecia are enough to hold Abalos accountable."

On October 9, 2007, Deputy minority leader and AKBAYAN Rep. Risa Hontiveros charged Abalos for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019), Revised Penal Code, and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (RA 6713). She earlier called for Ombudsman Gutierrez to inhibit herself from the case to ensure that it would be independent and quick.###

Thursday, 07 February 2008

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