By Cordillera Peoples Alliance
September 19, 2007
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s continuing lack of decisive action to cancel the controversial and corruption-driven ZTE National Broadband Network project will eventually add to the longstanding call for her to step down, as the said deal reflects Malacañang’s hand in the project despite loud criticism and questions raised both by the president’s allies and critics.
The only reason for maintaining the ZTE deal despite the credible revelations of businessman Jose De Venecia III are the kickbacks and benefits Malacañang will reap from the contract, especially since the $329 million project is said to be overpriced by $130 million, which will go to those directly involved such as Comelec Chairman Abalos and Communications Sec. Mendoza. The Senate and House Representatives are currently investigating the contract due to the said overpricing, while the Supreme Court has voted 8-7 to stop the implementation of the bribery-tainted project.
If Malacañang’s interest over the deal is proven further in coming investigations, Arroyo must be charged with plunder and corruption, like ousted Pres. Joseph Estrada. The situation is even aggravated by the involvement of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, whom De Venecia III earlier identified as the “mystery man”. Mike Arroyo could not have figured in the deal if not for his wife, the president.
GMA’s knowledge of the NBN project is cited in media reports when she witnessed the signing on April 21, 2006 in Boao, China, and during the NEDA meeting on November 2006 where the Cyber Corridor concept mentioned in her 2006 State of the Nation Address was discussed.
The NBN contract is one of the target beneficiaries of a $1.8-billion loan agreement between the Philippines and China. The project aims to provide broadband services to all government agencies nationwide by 2010. In GMA’s 2006 SONA, it can be recalled that telecommunications networking was specifically mentioned in her Cyber Corridor concept, which “will boost telecommunications, technology and education”. In the same speech, GMA stressed that ICT (Information Communication Technology) is a “key growth factor,” thus beefing up telecommunications infrastructure in the country, including its market, more popularly known as call centers.
Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep. Liza Maza said that the scandals reportedly involving the First Gentleman now amount to at least P16 billion, since his wife became president in 2001. These include the Jose Pidal account later claimed by younger brother and Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio Arroyo involving P321 million; the P728 million fertilizer fund scam, the irregular construction of the Diosdado Macapagal Avenue and alleged jueteng payoffs.
The Arroyo government has managed to throw away millions in this illegal deal while the Filipino people are plunged in deep poverty and unemployment under this unbearable economic crisis, ignoring calls for increased wages, such as the P125 across the board wage hike demanded for since 2001, and basic services and benefits.
These are more than enough to accuse the illegitimate President and the First Gentleman of plunder and corruption.
GMA’s credibility is again put on the line with the explosive ZTE issue, on top of the revival of the Hello Garci case, the illegitimacy of her presidency, the extra-judicial killings and human rights violations her regime is accountable for. The least yet sensible thing left for her to do is step down or face an ouster. The NBN scandal, alongside the aforementioned issues, is too much. GMA’s ouster must be pursued, and she must be made accountable for crimes against the Filipino people. #