Events, Statements, and Information Concerning the NBN-ZTE Scandal

A. Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ Homily at LSGH Sun Mass




17 FEBRUARY 2008

On this Second Sunday of Lent, during which we are asked to reflect on the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, I wish to touch on three themes that have to do with our moral transformation as a people: first, Ascertaining Credibility; second, Rediscovering our Humanity; and third, Witnessing to the Truth. In so doing, I hope to invite all of you to reflect more deeply on how we, as a nation, might respond to the present political crisis in which our identity and ethos, our convictions and integrity, in fact, who we are as a people, are at stake.


Jun, as Sen. Miriam Santiago has grilled you to ascertain your credibility (or was it to undermine your credibility?), allow me to raise some important questions to consider in the very process of discerning your credibility. Allow me to do so by drawing on my own counseling experience.

Very often, a young rape victim initially suppresses his or her awful and painful story, indeed wills to forget it, in the hope that by forgetting, he or she can pretend it never happened. But very often, too, there comes a point when concealing the truth becomes unbearable, and the desperate attempts to supposedly preserve life and sanity become increasingly untenable.

At this point the victim of abuse decides to seek help. But even after having taken this step, the victim, devastated and confused, will tell his or her story with much hesitation and trepidation. It should be easy to imagine why. In telling the truth, one risks casting shame on himself or herself, subjecting oneself to intense scrutiny and skepticism, and jeopardizing one's safety and those of his or her loved ones, especially when one dares to go up against an older or more powerful person.

Similarly, it is easy to imagine why Jun would initially refuse to challenge the might of Malacanang. Who in his or her right mind would accuse Malacanang of crimes against our people and implicate the First Family in a sordid tale of greed and corruption, knowing that by doing so, one endangers one's life and the lives of his or her loved ones? We are, after all, living in dangerous times, where the government has not hesitated to use everything in its power to keep itself in power, where it has yet to explain and solve the numerous cases of extra-judicial killings.

But Jun is in his right mind. His story rings true especially in the face of the perils that he has had to face. And by his courage, Jun has also shown that it is not only that he is in his right mind; his heart is also in the right place.

Hence, my personal verdict: Jun, I believe that you are a credible witness. And if hundreds have gathered here this morning, it is probably because they also believe in you. Mga kapatid, naniniwala ba kayo kay Jun Lozada? Naniniwala ba kayo sa kanyang testimonya? Kung gayon, palakpakan po natin ang Probinsyanong Intsik, si Mr. Jun Lozada.

Jun, we hope that by our presence here, you may find some consolation. Pope Benedict XVI writes that "con-solatio" or consolation means "being with the other in his or her solitude, so that it ceases to be solitude." Jun, be assured that your solitude is no longer isolation as we profess our solidarity with you. Hindi ka nag-iisa. We are committed to stay the course and to do our best to protect you and your family and the truth you have proclaimed.


What makes Jun a credible witness to us?

I think Jun is credible not simply by virtue of his being an eyewitness to the unmitigated greed of some of our public officials. Perhaps more importantly, Jun is credible because he has witnessed to us what it means to be truly human.

Which leads me to my second theme: What does it mean to be human? How might we rediscover our humanity?

Allow me to quote Pope Benedict XVI, who in his latest encyclical, Spe Salvi, has written: "the capacity to accept suffering for the sake of goodness, truth and justice is an essential criterion of humanity, because if my own well-being and safety are ultimately more important than truth and justice, then the power of the stronger prevails, then violence and untruth reign supreme. Truth and justice must stand above my comfort and physical well-being, or else my life becomes a lie. . . For this … we need witnesses—martyrs …. We need them if we are to prefer goodness to comfort, even in the little choices we face each day."

Our Holy Father concludes, "the capacity to suffer for the sake of the truth is the measure of humanity."

Isn't this the reason we emulate our martyrs: Jose Rizal, Gomburza, Evelio Javier, Macli-ing Dulag, Cesar Climaco and Ninoy Aquino? They have borne witness for us what it means to be truly human—to be able to suffer for the sake of others and for the sake of the truth.

I remember Cory recalling a conversation she had with Ninoy while they were in exile in Boston. Cory asked Ninoy what he thought might happen to him once he set foot in Manila. Ninoy said there were three possibilities: one, that he would be rearrested and detained once more in Fort Bonifacio; two, that he would be held under house arrest; and three, that he would be assassinated.

"Then why go home?" Cory asked.

To which Ninoy answered: "Because I cannot allow myself to die a senseless death, such as being run over by a taxi cab in New York. I have to go home and convince Ferdinand Marcos to set our people free."

Witnessing to one's deepest convictions, notwithstanding the consequences, is the measure of our humanity. Proclaiming the truth to others, whatever the cost, is the mark of authentic humanity.

Jun, we know you have feared for your life and continue to do so. But in transcending your fears for yourself and your family, you have reclaimed your humanity. And your courage and humility, despite harassment and calumniation by government forces, embolden us to retrieve and reclaim our humanity tarnished by our cowardice and complicity with sin in the world. You have inspired us to be true to ourselves and to submit to and serve the truth that transcends all of us.


This leads us to our third and last theme: witnessing to the truth. In his encyclical, Pacem in Terris, Pope John XXIII exhorts that it is the fundamental duty of the government to uphold the truth: "A political society is to be considered well-ordered, beneficial and in keeping with human dignity if it grounded on truth." Moreover, the encyclical explains that unless a society is anchored on the truth, there can be no authentic justice, charity and freedom.

Every government is therefore obliged to serve the truth if it is to truly serve the people. Its moral credibility and authority over a people is based on the extent of its defense of and submission to the truth. Insofar as a government is remiss in upholding the truth, insofar as a government actively suppresses the truth, it loses its authority vested upon it by the people.

At this juncture, allow me to raise a delicate question: At what point does an administration lose its moral authority over its constituents?

First, a clear tipping point is the surfacing of hard evidence signifying undeniable complicity of certain government officials in corruption and injustice, evidence that can be substantiated in court.

Hence, during the Marcos Regime, the manipulation of Snap Election results as attested to by the tabulators who walked out of the PICC was clear evidence of the administration's disregard for and manipulation of the collective will of the people in order to remain in power..

During the Erap Administration, the testimony of Clarissa Ocampo, claiming that Pres. Erap had falsified Equitable Bank documents by signing as Jose Velarde, was the smoking gun that triggered the rage of our people.

Allow me to respond to the same question by pursue an alternative track of argument: an administration loses it moral authority over its people when it fails in its fundamental duty to uphold the truth, when it is constituted by an ethos of falsehood. When a pattern of negligence in investigating the truth, suppressing the truth and harassing those who proclaim the truth is reasonably established, then a government, in principle, loses its right to rule over and represent the people.

Regarding negligence: Do the unresolved cases, such as the the failed automation of the national elections, the fertilizer scam, the extra-judicial killings, and the "Hello, Garci" scandal, constitute negligence on the part of the GMA Administartion to probe and ferret out the truth?

Regarding covering-up the truth: Does the abduction of Jun Lozada and the twisting and manipulation of his narrative by Malacanang's minions constitute concealment of the truth? Was the padlocking of the office of Asst. Gov't Counsel Gonzales who testified before the Senate regarding the North Rail project anomaly an instance of covering-up the truth?

Regarding the suppression of the truth: Does the issuance and implementation of E.O. 464, which prevents government officals from testifying in Senate hearings without Malacanang's permission, constitute suppression of the truth? Was the prevention of AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Senga and six other officers from testifying before the Senate with regard the "Hello, Garci" scandal tantamount to a suppression of the truth? Was disallowing Brig. Gen. Quevedo, Lt. Col Capuyan and Lt. Col. Sumayo from appearing before the Lower House an instance of hindering the truth from surfacing?

And regarding harassment of those who proclaim the truth: Are the abduction of Jun Lozada and the decision to court-marshall Gen. Gudani and Col. Balutan for disregarding Malacanang's order not to testify before the Senate examples of punishing those who come forth to tell the truth?

By conflating one's responses to all these questions does one arrive not at hard evidence showing culpapility on the part of some government officials, but a ghestalt, an image which nonetheless demands our assessment and judgment. I invite all of you then to consider these two methods of evaluating and judging the moral credibility of any government, the moral credibility of our present government.

Allow me to end with a few words about an Ignatian virtue, familiaritas cum Deo. To become familiar with God involves the illumination of the intellect, coming to know who God is and what God wills. But it also involves the conversion of the affect, the reconfiguration of the heart. Becoming familiar with God entails trasforming and conforming my thinking, my feeling and my doing in accordance to the Lord's, which can only be the work of grace.

Familiarity with God thus entail rejoicing in what God delights—the truth; abhoring what God detests—falsehood; being pained by what breaks the heart of God—the persecution of truth-seekers. Familiary with God means sharing the passion of God for the truth and the pathos of God whenever the truth and the bearers of truth are overcome by the forces of the lie.

On this Second Sunday of Lent, as we contemplate the transfiguration of Jesus Christ on Mount Horeb, we pray that our hearts and minds be so transfigured and so conformed to the mind, heart and will of the Jesus, our way, our life, and our truth.

May the Lord bless and protect you, Jun, and your family. May the Lord bless and guide us all into the way of truth. Amen.

B. Brief Timeline of the ZTE-NBN Scandal



October - The Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) first broaches the possibility of a National Broadband Network (NBN) deal to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Nov. 21 – NEDA Secretary Romulo Neri and Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) chairman Ramon Sales endorse the NBN project to President Arroyo in a Cabinet meeting. Mrs. Arroyo declares that she wants a build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme for NBN implemented.

Dec. 5 – Amsterdam Holdings Inc. (AHI) sends an unsolicited proposal for the NBN project to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) worth $240-million at its own expense.


February - Chinese firm Zhong Xing Telecommunications Equipment (ZTE) makes its own bid for the NBN project for a complete network for $300 million.

Feb. 20 - NEDA Secretary Romulo Neri requests DOTC to reconcile three projects discussed in the Cabinet -- the cyber-education plan of the Department of Education (DepEd), and the competing NBN proposals of Amsterdam Holdings Inc. and ZTE Corp

March 1 - Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza CICT chairman Ramon Sales submit a report to Neri

March 14 – US company Arescom submits a proposal to supply NBN hardware to DOTC for $135 million.

March 18 – AHI officials complain in a letter to the (DOTC) of bias over the Chinese firm.

March 26 – Neri expresses reservation over the NBN project in a technical board meeting.

March 29 - The NEDA Board and its Investment Coordinating Council — composed of Cabinet members — approve the NBN project.

March 30 – Columnist Jarius Bondoc first writes about the brewing storm involving ZTE and AHI over the NBN project.

April 20 – US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney writes to NEDA chief Romulo Neri, expressing “worries” over the upcoming signing of the NBN deal with ZTE.

April 21 – The Philippines and China -- through Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza and ZTE Corp. vice president Yu Yong -- sign a contract for the NBN project during President Arroyo’s visit to Boao, China. Total project cost is $330 million.

June 5 – Sales abruptly resigns as CICT chair.

June 18 – Bondoc publishes e-mail letter from Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) Graft Investigation Officer Vida Bocar requesting for documents on the ZTE deal; Bocar is sacked from her post on the same day.

June 20 - DOTC Assistant Secretary Lorenzo Formoso admits that the ZTE contract, of which there were two ‘sovereign’ copies, had gone missing but adds that they were “reconstituting” it from previous copies.

July 27 – Neri is transferred from the Cabinet-level NEDA to a lower post as head of the Commission on Higher Educaction (CHED).

July 30 – The Department of Justice approves the contract, saying that it is ‘legal’ and ‘valid.’

July 31 – Iloilo Vice-Gov. Rolex Suplico files a taxpayer suit at the Supreme Court questioning the NBN project with ZTE.

August 25 – The Philippines signs the loan agreement with China to fund the purchase of ZTE equipment.

August 27 – Bondoc reveals in his column the so-called hotel ‘sexcapades’ of a high-ranking poll commissioner in China and eight other trips to Hong Kong made from September 2006 to February 2007 by the official.

August 29 ­– Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla accuses Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Benjamin Abalos of involvement in the ZTE contract and tagged him as the poll commissioner being referred to in Bondoc’s column.

August 30 – Abalos admits in a radio interview that he had indeed traveled to China four times but only to play golf with ZTE officials, whom he says he met through his daughter, who is in the import business. Finance Secretary Gary Teves also admits Abalos was the one who introduced him to the ZTE officials.

September 1 – Teves recants his statements of meeting with ZTE officials with Abalos at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club.

September 3 – Malacañang gives a gag order to Cabinet officials on the ZTE issue.

September 7 – Jose "Joey" de Venecia III, a major stockholder and founder of AHI, admits he was offered a $10-million bribe by Abalos in an interview.

September 11 – The SC files temporary restraining order against the NBN project

September 18 – At the first Senate hearing of the blue-ribbon committee on the NBN project, De Venecia reiterates his earlier assertions , adding that First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo told him to “back off” from the deal during a “reconciliatory” meeting at Wack-Wack.

September 19 – First Gentleman Mike Arroyo denies intimidating anyone at Wack Wack.

September 23 – President Arroyo orders indefinite suspension of ZTE contract.

September 26 – At the second Senate hearing of the NBN project, Neri admits Abalos' bribery try at Wack Wack in exchange for his endorsement of the ZTE contract and reportedly infomed the President about it. Neri, however refused to disclose why President Arroyo went ahead with the project, invoking executive privilege. Abalos denies the allegations.

October 1 – Abalos resigns from the Comelec, saying that he wants to clear his name without dragging his office down.

October 3 – President Arroyo scraps the ZTE contract.

October 4 – Senate goes on session break. Criticism by opposition senators force committee chairman Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano to schedule first hearing after break on Oct. 25

October 9 – NEDA acting chairman Augusto Santos refuses to hand documents pertaining to the NBN to the Senate, invokling "executive privilege."

October 10 – Neri disputes NEDA's claim that documents can be withheld by invoking "executive privilege." He says the documents are public in nature.

October 23 – First Gentleman Jose "Miguel" Mike Arroyo says he won’t attend a Senate hearing due to health reasons. Joey de Venecia also reveals that there is a plot to kill him by Mendoza, Communications Assistant Secretary Reynaldo Berroya, and Bureau of Corrections director Ricardo Dapat. Mendoza, however, denies the charge.

October 25 – Senate hearing resumes.


Jan. 30, 2008 - Philippine Forest Corp. president Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr., an IT expert who allegedly knows how the ZTE contract was overpriced, flies to Hongkong two hours before the start of the Senate inquiry. The Senate orders his and Neri’s arrest.

Jan. 31, 2008 - The Senate attempts, but fails, to arrest Neri in his office at the Commission on Higher Education because he did not report for work.

Feb. 1, 2008 - The Senate sergeant-at-arms fails to arrest Neri in his house.

Feb. 5, 2008 - The Supreme Court orders the Senate not to arrest Neri. Lozada arrives from Hongkong at 4:40 p.m., but reports and text messages circulates that airport officials have kidnapped him. Malacañang denies any involvement in Lozada’s disappearance.

Feb. 6, 2008 - Philippine National Police Chief Avelino Razon in the morning says he wasn’t aware of Lozada’s whereabouts. Arthur Lozada, Rodolfo’s brother, files a writ of amparo before the Supreme Court. Arthur’s wife, Violeta, files a separate writ of habeas corpus. Razon says later in the day that Lozada is in police custody.

Feb. 7, 2008 - Lozada, in a 2 a.m. press conference at La Salle Greenhills, links Abalos and First Gentleman Mike Arroyo to the US$329.5-million national broadband deal with ZTE Corp. He reveals that:

- Abalos threatened to have him killed.

- When he quit the project in Jan. 18, 2007, the project was priced at $262 million, but when it was approved it was already $329.5 million.

- That Abalos had wanted a kickback of $130 million, with $70 million meant for Mr. Arroyo.

- He did not know the people who took him and that Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza had him fetched from the airport.

- He has no direct line to the President and that it was Secretary Neri who talked to her about the deal.

Manalangin. Manindigan. Makialam

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan

C. Invitation to Team RP Concert for Truth, Accountability and Reform

Stand up and make our voices count!


Monday, February 25, 2008
Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City
(between Gates 2 & 3)

In light of the recent happenings (ZTE Broadband Deal) in our society, it's time that the voice of the Filipino Youth be heard! Let us make our voices count with some of this generation's most relevant musicians and personalities.
Be part of the pursuit of TRUTH, REFORM, and ACCOUNTABILITY in our government and sign up to be a TEAM RP VOLUNTEER.


For more information, contact:

Ms. Reese Fernandez

Programs Head, Team RP
Tel: (02) 426-5657

Admission to the Concert is Free!
Please help by passing this on to your friends!

D. Let the Truth Be Told: Statement of the Ateneo Political Science Department

Statement of the Ateneo de Manila University Department of Political Science
on the ZTE-NBN Controversy

The events leading to, during and after the testimony of star witness
Rodolfo Jun Lozada on the anomalous US$330 million national
broadband network deal with Chinese company ZTE depict a classic tale
of how allegations of corruption, abuse of power and human rights
violations are and have been addressed under the government of Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo: evade, deny and cover-up. For more than five years
now, this modus operandi has kept the government barely stable, albeit
hounded by unresolved cases that have piled up over the years: failure
to automate and modernize the elections, alleged fraud during the 2004
presidential elections, the fertilizer scam, and extrajudicial
killings among the most prominent with the NBN-ZTE deal as the most

As a response to these scandals, the Arroyo government has not
hesitated in deploying mechanisms meant to suppress the truth behind
the allegations. For three consecutive years , 2005, 2006, and 2007,
Arroyo's allies in the House of Representatives have made a sham out
of the impeachment proceedings by filing weak complaints, suppressing
evidence and harassing members of the opposition in congress. In 2006,
Arroyo issued Executive Order 464 (EO464) prohibiting members of the
cabinet from testifying in congressional investigations without her
prior approval. While the Supreme Court has in broad strokes already
decided against the legality of the said order, Arroyo has yet to
revoke the directive. During the Senate hearings on the NBN-ZTE
controversy in the past months, Arroyo?s cabinet members have
persistently invoked ?executive privilege? in order to evade answering
substantive questions that may shed light on the issues. The
administration has also not been reluctant to co-opt, bribe and
threaten government officials willing to testify about their knowledge
of corruption. The dole-outs, payolas and other forms of inducements
attested to by Pampanga Governor Ed Panlilio and Bulacan Governor
Joselito Mendoza last year stand witness to this practice.

On the other hand, the Arroyo administration has given its loyal
allies a freehand in pursuing their self-interests in wild abandon.
The top brass of the military remains shielded by a culture of
impunity despite being implicated by the United Nations and other
international human rights watchdogs in the continued rise of
extrajudicial killings. Time and again, Arroyo has toyed with the idea
of constitutional change to sate the hunger for power and influence of
her congressional and local government units (LGU) allies who have
stood behind her in crisis moments.

These are not isolated cases of corruption but components of an
interwoven web of tactics that result from an insecure administration
resting upon repressive mechanisms on the one hand and unrestrained
pursuit of its allies? self-interests on the other hand because it has
lost the people?s trust and confidence. These are systematized and
brazen attacks on key democratic institutions supposed to guarantee
the public?s right to information and the accountability of elected
and appointed officials. Such assaults have alienated a large part of
the Filipino public from political engagement and have sowed
widespread cynicism among the youth. But this is hardly unintended ?
keeping the public disaffected means Arroyo remains in power.

As educators, scholars and students of politics, we in the Department
of Political Science are deeply disturbed by this growing sense of
disenchantment and distrust in the democratic process as a result of
the Arroyo government?s continued mockery of our political and
judicial institutions.

Our call resonates with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the
Philippines? (CBCP), the Watch and Pray Movement?s, the Ateneo School
of Government?s and the Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan?s framework of
truth, accountability and reform:

? We appeal to the conscience of government officials to divulge what
they know about corruption and abuses of the present administration.
We ask them to heed the CBCP?s call for personal conversion. As a
start, we demand from Secretary Romulo Neri nothing but the whole
truth of his knowledge of and participation in anomalous deals of the
Arroyo government. We demand that he be allowed to testify in the
Senate investigation without threats to his life and security. We
support efforts by the Church, other universities and civil society
groups in providing sanctuaries to would-be-whistleblowers as well as
the collection of funds for their material sustenance and legal defense.

? We ask the Supreme Court to rule without delay on the petitions
filed by Senators Manuel A. Roxas and Benigno Aquino III requesting
that the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) release
pertinent documents on the NBN-ZTE deal. Similarly, we ask the Supreme
Court to resolve the petition filed by Secretary Neri on the question
of executive privilege and his appearance in the Senate
investigations. Neri?s participation in the Senate hearings and the
NEDA documents are being claimed as covered by EO 464. We reiterate
calls for President Arroyo to finally revoke EO 464.

? We support the proposal to establish an Independent Counsel through
the passage of a statute that will investigate and prosecute those who
are culpable. We urge the public to closely watch the investigation
being conducted by the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice, even
as we consider these as fresh attempts of the administration to
confuse the people, frighten and destroy the morale of present and
future witnesses and sow mistrust of the Senate-led investigation.

? We call on lawyers, civil society organizations and private
individuals to link with each other to gather information that will
clearly establish the culpability of government officials named by the
witnesses in the NBN-ZTE deal and the abduction of Jun Lozada. We ask
them to disseminate such information so the public can be guided in
judging the issues themselves.

? We urge the public, their immediate and wider communities to
continue being vigilant and informed. We put our trust in the public?s
judgment in actualizing the bishops? call for communal action through
mass demonstrations and public forums where people can be informed and
can express their collective outrage in a militant but non-violent

? We realize that the success of these efforts rests largely upon a
citizenry committed to the pursuit of truth, active and informed
engagement with state institutions. We commend all whistleblowers for
their courage and for showing us that no matter how much we are part
or have been part of corruption and injustice ? in little or large
ways ? we can still redeem ourselves and bring hope back in our
democratic institutions. We hope that their initiatives can help
transform our political culture towards upholding truth and

We believe, however, that a restoration of the people?s trust in our
democratic institutions can only begin when the personalities
identified by Jun Lozada and by previous whistleblowers are held
accountable for suppressing and covering-up the truth behind
allegations of wrongdoings in the government.

Failure of the administration to do so justifies the intensifying
public clamor for Arroyo and her government to resign.

E. SLB International On-Line Forum

Log-on. Be updated. Air your sentiments. Exchange views.

The SLB International On-Line Forum


24/7 Feb 25- March 2, 2008

Log-on to:

Filipinos around the world want a chance to speak up and be heard about the state of our country. As many continue to wonder "Is Jun Lozada a credible witness? Do I believe in his testimony? Has our government really lost its moral authority and legitimacy?”, many also ask "Where do we go from here? What can we actually do?"

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan has therefore created the space where opinions can be made to count and where questions can communally be discerned.

The SLB International on-line forum will run for the entire week from Feb 25-March2, 2008. It will be accessible anytime of the day, all 7 days. Resource persons from the SLB team will also be on-line every lunch period from 12nn-2pm (Philippine time).

We want Filipinos everywhere to log-on, be updated, air their sentiments, and exchange views, because all these are important steps toward heeding the call to communal discernment and building consensus.

Help us spread the word. Send this to all your Filipino friends and relatives everywhere, especially those overseas.

Manalangin. Manindigan. Makialam.