For Immediate Release
Contact: Vicente R. Romano III, 0920.9615610
Leah Navarro, 0917.898.1957
Here's a short write-up that Jun Lozada wrote sometime in October. He wanted me to disseminate it without attribution. I believe he was motivated both by his genuine concern for a beleaguered friend who was being maligned no end, and his desire, even then, for the truth to somehow surface. He left it up to me as to how and when to disseminate it.
I did not find any compelling reason to get it out then. But now that Jun has told it all, and Neri is being invited back to testify, I believe the public deserves to know what was (and maybe still is) in the mind of Neri – at least from the point of view of a friend. I'm sure Jun will not mind.
Let's get this out in the open.
What is Neri afraid to say and Why?
Many speculations have been made as to what Neri knows about the ZTE-NBN most particularly the direct involvement of Pres. Gloria Arroyo in this abominable affair. After his damaging "Sec. May 200 ka dito" demolition of Abalos, the discredited former Comelec Chairman, many were left disappointed when Neri suddenly clamped up when the Senators started asking him about the nature of his conversation with Arroyo, no amount of coaxing, cajoling and threats was enough to break his Code of Omerta. The question on many people's mind was, What was Neri trying to protect when he repeatedly invoked "Executive Priviledge" during that gruelling 12 hour Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on live television?
We have known the Truth all along as one of the few people that Neri confided his predicament during those fateful days of April 2006, and how he wanted to resign his post of NEDA Director General and Secretary for Socio-Economic Planning over this incident where he lost all his moral respect for Pres. Gloria Arroyo.
We are doing this document to give the public an understanding of this predicament.
What is Neri afraid to tell the public? He is afraid to tell the public that after he reported the Abalos P200 million peso bribe offer, Arroyo casually told him to ignore it and work for its recommendation for approval anyway. That when he protested that it is too controversial and may attract the wrong kind of attention from media, Arroyo retorted back "Pakulo lang ni Joey yan and his father". When he tried to reason that it may not be accommodated in the Chinese ODA package because it has been filled up with a list of projects already, Arroyo again ordered him to remove the low cost housing project and some water project to accommodate the ZTE-NBN deal in the ODA loan. That when he attempted to reason that it may not be approved in time for the Boao Forum which was only two days to go from that fateful April day, Arroyo with raised voice told him to include the ZTE-NBN project in the agenda of the following day's meeting of a combined NEDA Board and Cabinet Committee, who as expected promptly approved the project paving the way for the contract signing between ZTE and DOTC in China the next day. Neri is afraid to tell the public that this conversation took place between him and Arroyo because it might spark another impeachment complaint against Arroyo.
Why is Neri afraid to tell the public about this conversation with Arroyo? He is afraid that another impeachment will simply result to more expenses of public funds similar to the Hyatt 10 impeachment crisis, because as DBM Secretary who replaced Boncodin, he was entrusted with the large scale DBM payola operation of Arroyo to Congressmen, Senators and Governors not quite similar to the crude Panlilio incident that the public is witnessing now. He is afraid with a more partisan Andaya at the helm of DBM, more public funds will be spent to buy the silence and favour of these greedy legislators and local executives.
He is afraid that with Arroyo's firm control of public funds she can buy all the necessary support from most sectors of society to keep her in power.
He is afraid that even if the opposition knows about this conversation with Arroyo, he is afraid that the opposition will not pursue a serious impeachment proceedings against Arroyo, because it is not to their political interest that Noli de Castro becomes President in case Arroyo is impeached and becomes a more formidable political opponent in 2010. This insincere and unpatriotic goal of the opposition is already being manifested by the malicious speed that the Erap pardon is being cooked by Ronnie Puno together with the Erap camp to hastily put a united front of "Birds of the same corrupt feather" coalition against the emerging JDV led political opposition.
He is afraid that even if the Church knows the truth about Arroyo's direct involvement in the ZTE-NBN deal, the Church will still not call for her resignation due to the closeness of Arroyo's trusted lady liason to the Cardinal of Manila who was very effective during the "Hello Garci" crisis. That Arroyo's Religious Affairs Operators have the Bishops firmly in their "donation" graces, as again manifested by the quick rebuttal of the Mindanao Bishops' of the call of their fellow bishops in Luzon who where calling for the resignation of Arroyo just after Arroyo gave them a visit in Mindanao.
He is afraid that even if the military knows the truth about Arroyo's direct involvement in the fraudulent ZTE-NBN deal, the AFP brass is much to indebted to Arroyo for their position and the perks that goes with their position, that they have demonstrated this twisted loyalty with their willingness to detain, remove from the service and even shoot their own men for voicing out their legitimate concerns regarding the corruption and moral authority of their Commander in Chief. It is a sad spectacle to see the respected warriors of the Marines & Special Forces rot in jail with their ideals, while their men are dying even without receiving the measly P150 per day combat pay that was promised to them by Arroyo due to lack of funds & generals gets a gift bag similar to those given to the governors and congressmen just for having dinner with Arroyo the day after that infamous breakfast & lunch meeting where bribe money flowed scandalously free.
He is afraid that even if the Media knows the truth about Arroyo's direct involvement in the ZTE-NBN scam, Media will simply wither in the torrents of cash and favors similar to how the Hyatt 10, Hello Garci crisis were killed in the media headlines and Radio& TV coverages. Although he believes in the integrity of a handful of Journalist, he believes that a handful of these mavericks cannot withstand the hordes of paid lackeys of Malacanang. Especially that the Arroyo crisis team is now being handled by the best mercenary money can buy, from Ramos Sulo Operation, Erap's DILG and now Arroyo's troubleshooter, Ronnie Puno. Ably supported by the Media and PR money from PAGCOR being handled by Cerge Remonte to buy positive airtime, headlines and editorials.
He is afraid that even if the Business Sector knows about the truth of Arroyo's direct involvement to defraud the coffers of the taxes they are paying, the businessmen will be reluctant to rock the boat of the current economic uptrend, especially with the very close personal and business relationship of the so called leaders of the big business like Ricky Razon of ICTSI, Donald Dee of PCCI and Francis Chua of the Filipino-Chinese Federation to Arroyo herself. He is afraid that the hard earned remittances of Filipino OFWs that is keeping the economy booming and that can keep the economy afloat even under any administration is being wasted under this unholy alliance of Arroyo and her favoured businessmen.
He is afraid that even if the Civil Society knows the truth about Arroyo's direct involvement in the ZTE-NBN deal, that the Civil Society is now tired of mass actions after witnessing two failed EDSA revolutions, that Civil Society is now afflicted with a "Rally Fatigue" and cannot muster enough public outrage to denounce Arroyo's "corruption with impunity". He is afraid that the middle class is now indifferent to the corruption that goes around them, not realising that the middle class are the ones mainly carrying the burden of the loan payments for these corrupt deals. He is afraid that the middle class are more interested to become an OFW & to leave this country leaving their family and children behind, and may not care anymore about the crimes being committed against their country by its own President.
He is afraid that even if the Masa, the students, the workers knows the truth about Arroyo's direct involvement in the ZTE-NBN deal to steal precious resources from public funds, that they are now too poor and impoverished to be able to afford the time to join mass actions against the abuses of the Arroyo administration, that these former vanguards of mass actions in the country are now completely dependent on financial resources of professional organizers and have turned themselves into a "Rally for hire" groups rather than a true and genuine political gathering shouting for reforms.
This is the predicament of Neri which I want people to realize especially to those who are asking Neri to tell the truth.
We all have to link and expand our ranks till the entire country is bound together with the strength and the ardor of our resolve. I do not exaggerate when I say this could be our last chance to save democracy in the Philippines . The darkness thickens and we have to move. - Joaquin "Chino" Roces, 1985
Bobby Kennedy - "Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws--but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted--when we tolerate what we know to be wrong--when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened-- when we fail to speak up and speak out--we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice."