On February 6, 2008, Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada – a witness to the anomalous US$320 million National Broadband Network (NBN) deal with Chinese company ZTE Inc. – was abducted by guards from the Presidential Security Group (PSG). He was driven around Metro Manila up to Los Banos, Laguna all the while not knowing where his captors will take him and what they will do to him. During the entire ordeal, Lozada was warned by his captors that his phone was under surveillance and that his calls and text messages were being intercepted by intelligence operatives. Lozada’s disappearance caused a stir among his family, the media and human rights groups who have filed petitions for a writ of habeas corpus and writ of amparo in the Supreme Court. The restive public speculation and media hype compelled Lozada’s kidnappers to bring him back to his family but only after forcing him to sign ante-dated letters requesting for police protection and an affidavit denying his abduction.

We are outraged by the government’s blatant violation of Rodolo “Jun” Lozada’s human rights and by the deliberate obstruction of justice to conceal the truth behind his disappearance and the ZTE controversy. We condemn the desperate attempts of government officials to cover-up its crime. We see this as an obvious manifestation of the increasing mafia-like way the Philippine state is being run under this current administration. We are appalled by the way the government has increasingly been using tactics that impinge upon our rights to privacy and personal security.

We hold President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the PSG culpable for these gross acts of injustice. We demand for their accountability. We want them punished. But experience tells us that this administration has employed all possible means to prevent the people from holding its officials accountable and will continue to suppress the truth for political survival. Already, Lozada has become the subject of character assassination and malicious statements. This shows up to what extent the government is willing to do in order to obscure the truth. Such response is hardly surprising.

Because the dynamics underlying the Arroyo administration – her questionable legitimacy and her desire to concentrate power to avoid prosecution after she steps down in 2010, revealed in the unchecked culture of impunity within the military and among administration allies – we believe that unless Arroyo steps down from office, trust in our democratic institutions will continue to decay.

We therefore call on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to resign. We admit that Arroyo’s resignation is not enough but we believe that this is the first step in the restoration of our faith in our hard-won democracy.

We urge fellow Ateneans in government and public service to follow the heroic example of Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada. We implore them to reveal their knowledge of corruption and abuse of power under the present administration. We call on the Ateneo administration, the alumni association and the student body to join us in our crusade for truth and accountability. In the same way, we disown fellow Ateneans who have forgotten and reneged on their promise to become Lux in Domino – Light in God – and persons for others.

We call for continuing reflection and discernment but we don’t want to be bystanders as our countrymen begin to come together anew to defend our deeply shared Filipino values of freedom and justice.

Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada has risked his and his family’s life and security because of his patriotism and love for the truth. We are shamed if we don’t do the same.