Missing key witness in ZTE broadband scandal surfaced
Another key witness in the anomalous ZTE broadband deal between the Philippines and China, surfaced early dawn today at a catholic school in San Juan, Green Hills, Metro Manila, after he was allegedly abducted more than 20 hours ago by unknown individuals as he disembarked from a Cathay Pacific Airways at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City, Philippines.
Rodolfo Lozado, a technical adviser to the multi-million dollar ZTE scandal and president of the Philippine Forest Development Council, an attached agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), told media during a press conference held inside the La Salle Catholic School in Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila that he was fetched by plainclothes men who introduced themselves as coming from the police security protection unit of the Philippine National Police.
Reports said Lozada was whisked away without passing through the customs and immigration personnel who normally inspect each arriving passenger from abroad so that the arrival time can be stamped on his valid passport.
Consequently, the family members and other relatives who were waiting for him at the arrival area got a surprise of their lives when Lozada was nowhere to be found. They only learned later from airport witnesses who said that some plainclothes personnel escorted him out at the exit door and spirited away.
In a press conference attended by catholic priests, bishops and nuns from the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines, Lozada admited that during the alleged kidnapping he was made to sign an affidavit without exactly knowing what was its content. He suspected that the affidavit will be used against him should he pushes through with his intention to testify at the Senate hearing spearheaded by the Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano.
In the same conference, Lozada invoked his earlier testimonies that former Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos, who resigned after the Joey de Venecia, the son of House Speaker Jose de Venecia, implicated Abalos as the mastermind behind ZTE broadband scandal.
Lozada said that during a meeting at the Shangrila Hotel in Mandaluyong, he overheard Abalos convincing First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, who was in the same meeting, to convince President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to work out a deal that would make the ZTE broadband deal as part of the loan by the Philippine government from China.
Lozada added that what he heard was too distinct from what he knew as part of the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) scheme of the government, whereby China would commit the project and after a certain period of operation will be turned over to the Philippine government.
From Greenhills, San Juan, Lozada was brought to the Senate under the protective custody of the sergeant-at-arms until such time that he is ready to testify under oath as to what really transpired when the ZTE transaction was being hatched. He insisted that the original contract for the ZTE broadband deal was only US$262 million. But when Abalos came into the picture, he was surprised to find that contract was jacked up by another US$130 million. Of this amount, the Chinese firm gave Abalos a US$ 2 million check as his advanced commission. Abalos, he cited.
Meanwhile, Senator Cayetano said in a media interview that Lozada will be given the option to stay at the Senate custody while plans for his testimonies are being worked out. This will also protect him from any harm as a key witness to the anomalous multi-million ZTE broadband scandal.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, son of the former President Joseph Estrada, said that he was already very eager to put Lozada before the Blue Riboon committee hearing so that the public may have to learn the truth behind the ZTE scandal.
At this writing, Lozada was made to rest considering that he didn't have enough sleep for the two days since he went missing. "It's good that he is still alive," close relatives told media.
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