Report on ZTE Mess a Deterrent to Whistleblowers

Instead of deterring wrongdoing, the Senate panel report on the $329.48-million national broadband network deal mess would intimidate future whistleblowers from exposing anomalies in government, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson lamented Wednesday. 

On this note, Lacson said he cannot support the recommendation of the report to pursue charges against witnesses Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. and Jose de Venecia III.

“As the sponsor of the privilege speech that triggered the ZTE investigation and responsible, directly or indirectly in convincing Jun Lozada to come out and testify in the Senate investigation, I cannot support a committee report that will discourage future whistleblowers from blowing the lid and testify against powerful and influential persons committing large-scale graft such as the NBN-ZTE deal,” he said.

Besides, he said the findings that Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Richard Gordon presented Tuesday were yet to be approved by members of the whole committee.

In 2007, Lacson delivered a privilege speech detailing irregularities in the government’s bidding for its national broadband network (NBN) deal. The speech triggered an investigation by the Blue Ribbon Committee.

During the Senate hearings on the matter, de Venecia testified that then Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos offered then socio-economic secretary Romulo Neri a P200-million bribe to endorse ZTE Corp. as the contractor. Neri confirmed this in his testimony.

However, it was Lozada whose testimonies detailed the irregularities in the bidding process for the NBN deal.