Thursday, April 30, 2009

Free Jun Lozada? Jail Arroyo and Arroyo, Abalos and Neri!

NBN ZTE whistleblower Jun Lozada is in jail for perjury charges filed by former Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor.

And perversely enough, those implicated in what amounts to economic plunder in the senate Blue Ribbon investigation on the NBN ZTE deal remain at-large. They probably watched the whole drama of the Lozada arrest unfold in their comfortable houses or offices or wherever they may have been. Then again, perhaps they completely ignored it.

I have no idea where resigned Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos and Former NEDA Chief Romulo Neri were when the Lozada arrest was taking place.

Then again, I knew where Michael Defensor was at around 2:00 PM yesterday. He was at Annabel's giving a press conference to explain why Lozada had to be arrested. Of course, the law is on his side on this one as Lozada's arrest was ordered by a Manila Court. It wasn't as if Defensor himself drove to Lozada's hiding place in La Salle Greenhills campus in Mandaluyong City, armed with his 9 MM, and escorted by his loyal bodyguards. (Which I think he actually did once, but that's another case and it happened in Tagaytay.)

At the press conference, Defensor said that all that Lozada needed to do to regain his freedom is to retract his statement that Defensor forced him to lie that he was kidnapped when he arrived from Hong Kong in February 2008.

There is a bit of ad miserecordiam, an appeal to the heart, as Defensor further explains that he was doing this for his children.

I remember one early evening after Defensor appeared at the NBN ZTE hearing at the Senate, Julie Tactacan-Defensor began shouting at Leah Navarro at the Senate building's entrance. Julie was quite livid, telling Leah "Why are you lying? Pati mga anak ko dinamay niyo." Or something to that effect.

I have a wife who is just as fierce, if not fiercer than Julie. And, believe me, I understand that an angry wife is more than enough reason to go to start a war. Their fury will negate all commands and appeals coming from bosses and friends.

Fearing repercussions of the case on the administration, two Cabinet officials called him up to convince him to drop the case against Lozada, Defensor said.

“Cerge Remonde called me up last Saturday, and Gabby Claudio called me up on Sunday. Cerge again called on Monday evening. They asked me to withdraw the case, because the Lozada issue was dead but is being revived,” Defensor told reporters

But, perhaps, Defensor's struggle to clear his name is insignificant when compared to the still unresolved question of whether or not there was any truth behind Lozada's more damning statements of massive corruption that reaches all the way to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Lozada's more damning statement is the allegation that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo together with First Gentleman Mike Arroyo conspired with high ranking officials of the government to enter into an allegedly overpriced NBN-ZTE deal worth $329 Million. Lozada said that bribe money for signing the deal reaching billions of pesos already changed hands.

Defensor is, perhaps, just a bit player in the whole mess and what he is doing is motivated by self-interest -- but, really, who can blame him.

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