Lawyer groups support NBN whistle blower
Urges graft case vs. major actors
BAGUIO CITY (Feb. 14) — The distance of Manila from this summer city does not serve as a barrier for the growing support for Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, the whistle blower in the multi-million dollar anomaly that has tainted the National Broadband Network (NBN) deal.
Lawyers’ groups in this highland region supported Lozada for his exposé and claimed that pieces of evidence gathered are already enough to file graft and corruption charges against those involved in the $329-million NBN contract awarded to China’s ZTE Corp.
Lawyer Jose Mencio Molintas said if the gauge is probable cause, there is enough evidence to charge those involved with the anomalous deal, including former Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos Sr. and even First Gentleman Mike Arroyo for graft and corrupt practices.
“Lozada’s testimony corroborates the exposé made by Jose De Venecia III and Romulo Neri,” added Molintas, vice-president for Luzon of the newly formed National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL). Founded September last year, NUPL is a lawyers’ group actively committed to give legal services to the victims of human rights violations, particularly the poor and the oppressed.
Another veteran human rights lawyer in the region urged that the time is ripe to file a case against those involved in the anomalous NBN deal while supporting the call of the snowballing campaign against graft and corruption.
“The Senate can already stop its investigation and help in the prosecution of those involved with the NBN anomalous deal;” pointed Atty. Reynaldo Cortes, chair of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) and active member of the NUPL. Like Molintas, he supports the people’s movement against graft and corruption.
“Before the Senators will be charged of grandstanding (by the administration), they maybe helpful in supporting the case against those involved with the ZTE contract,” Cortes added.
Local IBP supports mother org’n
Yesterday, the national leadership of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines added in a press conference their voice to the support for Lozada to standby on truth.
“We condemn and oppose all kinds of corruption. There can be no ‘moderation of greed’. We call for zero corruption on all public procurements,” said Feliciano Bautista, President and Chair of the IBP.
For the local chapter here, “We support the IBP national all the way,” says IBP local president George Dumawing in an interview.
“I personally believe Mr. Lozada’s exposé could bring GMA down if we all support him,” added Dumawing, who claims that more than 1,000 lawyers are affilliated with the local IBP in Baguio City and Benguet.
The national IBP joined the Friday mass protests that denounced graft and corruption within the government of GMA.
Action for truth and good governance
Meanwhile, various groups here held a mass action against graft and corruption Friday at 5:00 P.M. at the People’s Park. Dubbed as people’s action for truth and good governance, it gathered some 500 from various sectors.
Annie Buenafe, principal of the Saint Louis Elementary department here, shared the statement of the Catholic Educators Association of the Philippines (CEAP), which supports Catholic Bishops Conference in the Philippines (CBCP) call for communal action. She said only the truth will set the nation free.
Ronnie Tagaoa of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) cried enough for greed and corruption as he appealed for the people’s support to remove GMA from the presidency.
Chie Galvez of Tongtongan Ti Umili (TTU) said the GMA administration failed to deliver services as it is involved in massive graft.
Other speakers came from student and church groups as they join in their call to support Lozada and the people’s clamor for a genuine change.# Arthur L. Allad-iw for NORDIS