EDSA 2 forces vow to nail Arroyo for plunder
Slam Estrada pardon as ‘self-serving’
By Christian V. Esguerra
Last updated 06:13pm (Mla time) 09/24/2007
MANILA, Philippines -- The absolute pardon Malacañang is preparing for Joseph Estrada has angered the forces that helped bring the former president down, and is driving them to nail President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who they installed through 2001’s EDSA 2 uprising, for what they call “far worse cases of plunder.”
PlunderWatch, the group that helped initiate the plunder case against the former president, condemned the pardon, which might come just months after Estrada’s conviction.
Fr. Joe Dizon, the group’s spokesperson, described the offer as “indecent and immoral” while fellow PlunderWatch convenor Carol Araullo labeled it as “unprincipled and self-serving.”
Dizon and Araullo alleged that Arroyo was seeking to grant pardon for her predecessor as a way of “preparing for her own future,” which might not necessarily look kindly on her.
“In the eyes of most people, she’s next,” Dizon told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net, citing the spate of corruption scandals under the Arroyo administration, the latest of which is the $329-million national broadband network (NBN) deal.
“She can’t expect any leniency from the people when her time comes,” said Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros, whose party-list group was among those that called for Estrada’s ouster in 2001.
The Sandiganbayan anti-graft court sentenced Estrada to as much as 40 years in prison for plunder on September 12, 2007 for accepting hundreds of millions of pesos in payoffs from the illegal numbers game jueteng and for accepting commissions in the purchase of shares from the Belle Corp. by the Government Service Insurance System and Social Security System.
The jueteng payoffs were placed in Estrada’s Erap Muslim Youth Foundation, while the Belle Corp. commission was placed in the Jose Velarde account which a bank executive confirmed to be owned by Estrada.
In the NBN fiasco, Araullo said key personalities were talking only because they were “hit” by the controversial deal.
Chief whistle-blower Jose “Joey” de Venecia III, who spilled the beans on the involvement of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr., was a losing bidder in the lucrative project.
De Venecia III alleged that the First Gentleman told him to back off from the project while he accused Abalos of actively brokering for the Chinese firm ZTE and offering him a $10-million bribe to withdraw his firm from contention.
“Once these people are done making noise, I will assure you that we will make Arroyo accountable for her crimes,” Araullo told the Inquirer. “Mahaba ang memorya namin (We have long memories).”
Araullo said PlunderWatch would show even more commitment in nailing Arroyo than it did in working on the Estrada plunder case.
She said her group already had substantial information on corruption under the Arroyo administration. She said it was also documenting cases of human rights violations.
Dizon said Malacañang was not thinking of Estrada’s welfare in dangling an absolute pardon.
“If I can make an unsolicited advice to him, I’ll tell him, ‘Just consummate the judicial process,’” Dizon said. Estrada could still file a motion for reconsideration before the Sandiganbayan or appeal his conviction for plunder at the Supreme Court.
The Catholic priest said PlunderWatch was willing to support a pardon if it is given on humanitarian grounds, not for political reasons as is purportedly the case now.
“Malacañang is doing it now as a matter of political survival, considering that it’s being rocked by scandals, one after the other, today,” he said in Filipino.
Estrada earlier expressed his openness to a presidential pardon, provided it would involve no admission of guilt. He said he also wanted to be with his 102-year-old mother, who is confined at the San Juan Medical Center.
Even without a pardon, the court could extend assistance to Estrada on humanitarian grounds by allowing him to visit more frequently visit his ailing mother, according to Dizon.
“Don’t do it simply because you want to minimize the impact of the political controversies,” he said, this time referring to Malacañang.
Hontiveros said no amount of political wheeling and dealing could divert public attention from the NBN scandal.
“I don’t think anything can take the heat off the government regarding the [NBN deal] anymore,” she said. “It’s spinning out of control.”
Arroyo's rating plunges amid NBN scandal--SWS survey
First Gentleman distrusted in 3rd quarter
By Kate V. Pedroso
Last updated 06:05pm (Mla time) 09/24/2007
MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) Only three in every 10 adult Filipinos were satisfied with President Arroyo's performance, while only one in every five trusted her husband, First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, according to the latest survey by the Social Weather Stations.
The Third Quarter Social Weather Survey found 34 percent satisfied and 45 percent dissatisfied with the President's performance, for a net rating of -11, down from her June net rating of -3.
The net satisfaction rating is the difference between the percentage of satisfied and dissatisfied responses.
"The net satisfaction with the President dropped back to the negative level of the second to the fourth quarters of 2006, after being roughly neutral in first and second quarters of 2007," SWS said in a statement released on Monday.
The same survey found that 20 percent had much trust in the First Gentleman, while 58 percent had "little trust" in him, for a net trust rating of -37.
Respondents were asked if they had "very much, somewhat much, undecided if much or little, somewhat little, or very little" trust in Arroyo’s husband, or if they "have not heard or read anything about [him]."
"Positive net trust in Mr. Arroyo occurred only in January 2001; it has been negative from September 2001 to the present," SWS also noted.
Arroyo has been the least popular of four presidents since democracy was restored in 1986, the SWS said in earlier polls.
The latest survey was taken amid allegations of bribery and overpricing in a US$330 million (€235 million) national broadband project the government had awarded to China's Zhong Xing Telecommunication Equipment Corp. to link up all its offices on the Internet.
Jose "Joey" de Venecia III, whose company lost the bid, testified in the Senate last week that the country's elections commissioner tried to bribe him and later threatened him unless he withdrew his bid.
The businessman, son of House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., also implicated Arroyo's husband, saying Jose Miguel Arroyo told him to "back off" during a meeting with the commissioner where the deal was discussed.
The commissioner, Benjamin Abalos, and the president's husband, Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo, have admitted meeting with de Venecia over the contract, but denied trying to improperly influence him.
Faced with a brewing scandal, the president ordered the contract suspended Saturday. The September poll showed 58 percent of respondents had "little trust" in Mr. Arroyo, compared to 20 percent who had "much trust" in him.
Although wielding no official powers, Mr. Arroyo is regarded as an influential back-room operator and a vocal backer of his wife against political rivals.
He has been linked to illegal gambling payoffs in the past, but has denied the charges.
SWS also noted that the average proportion trusting Mr. Arroyo was only 20 percent, while the average proportion distrusting him was 51 percent since 2001. This gives him an average net trust rating of -31 from January 2001 to September 2007.
The survey also showed that the First Gentleman was also "relatively distrusted" even by those who were satisfied with Arroyo.
Nearly half (49 percent) of those who were satisfied with Arroyo's performance distrusted her husband, while 67 percent of those who were dissatisfied with her also distrusted him.
SWS attributed the drop in the President's net satisfaction rating to "loss of support from Visayas and Mindanao, and worsening dissatisfaction in Luzon outside Metro Manila."
Net satisfaction with the President dropped from +10 in June (48 percent satisfied, 38 percent dissatisfied) to +1 in September (40 percent satisfied, 38 percent dissatisfied) in the Visayas; from +8 (44 percent satisfied, 36 percent dissatisfied) to -1 (38 percent satisfied, 38 percent dissatisfied) in Mindanao; and from -6 (37 percent satisfied, 43 percent dissatisfied) to -18 (32 percent satisfied, 50 percent dissatisfied) in Luzon outside Metro Manila.
In Metro Manila, however, it recovered from net -31 (26 percent satisfied, 57 percent dissatisfied) to -24 (28 percent satisfied, 52 percent dissatisfied).
Meanwhile, dissatisfaction with the President worsened in urban areas, while it turned from "mainly satisfied" to "merely neutral" in rural areas.
Her net satisfaction rating in urban areas dropped from -12 in June (36 satisfied, 48 percent dissatisfied) to -18 in September (32 percent satisfied, 50 percent satisfied), while it dropped from +8 (44 percent satisfied, 36 percent dissatisfied) to -3 (36 percent satisfied, 39 percent dissatisfied) in rural areas.
Across socio-economic classes, satisfaction with the President's performance declined among members of classes D and E. It fell from neutral (40 percent satisfied, 40 percent dissatisfied) in June to net -13 (33 percent satisfied, 46 percent dissatisfied) in September among members of class E, while it worsened from net -5 (39 percent satisfied, 44 percent dissatisfied) to net -12 (34 percent satisfied, 46 percent dissatisfied) among members of class D.
Meanwhile, it "slightly improved" among the middle-to-upper classes ABC, from +4 (41 percent satisfied, 37 percent dissatisfied) to +8 (46 percent satisfied, 38 percent dissatisfied).
The survey was conducted from September 2 to September 5 using face-to-face interviews with 1,200 adults divided into random samples of 300 each in Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
It had a margin of error of plus-minus 3 percentage points.
The survey was not commissioned and was done on SWS' own initiative as part of its quarterly Social Weather Surveys.
sino naman masa-satisfied sa performance ni Arroyo..kabi-kabila ang sabit ng pangalan ng Pamilya nya lalo na si FG parang inaabuso ang posisyon
Habang sinusubaybayan ko tong issue, para ko ng nagbabasa ng libro tungkol sa underworld,mobsters at mafia. Illagal gambling,payoffs, graft, death threats and cover ups...etc. All ingredients for an exciting mobster story. Wala na bang tsansa Pilipinas magkaron ng leader na masasabi nating talagang magaling na statesman. For the meantime mangarap muna tayo..
this news was published last month but i only saw this today...
[SIZE="4"]Lozada: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wanted $329-M deal for Abalos[/SIZE]
By Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:02:00 05/18/2011
MANILA, Philippines—Witness Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada on Tuesday testified that then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had told Romulo Neri to give the $329-million National Broadband Network (NBN) project to then Commission on Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos.
Lozada made the statement in a Sandiganbayan hearing in the course of being grilled by Abalos’ lawyer, Gabriel Villareal, on his role in the project to digitally connect government agencies nationwide, particularly on his request to Abalos to cut the latter’s purported commission from the deal to $65 million from $130 million.
Neri was then secretary general of the National Economic and Development Authority. Lozada was his technical adviser.
Neri and Abalos are undergoing trial in the Sandiganbayan on graft charges in connection with the fraud-tainted NBN deal.
Lozada said Arroyo, now the representative of Pampanga’s second district, had wanted Abalos to get the deal. “The President has given instructions, as Secretary Neri made me understand, that the project must be given to Chairman Abalos,” he said.
In an earlier testimony before the antigraft court, Lozada said Abalos—who, he said, was working with the project proponent, ZTE Corp. of China—asked him to protect his $130-million commission in the project.
The deal with ZTE Corp. was eventually scuttled in the face of a public outcry over the alleged overpricing.
On Tuesday, Lozada said he had wanted to leave the project because of Abalos’ purported threats, but that Neri told him not to do so in order to prevent the “theft” of the $130 million.
“Sabi nya, wag ka na umalis dyan. Pag umalis ka, buong-buo yan mananakaw nila (He told me, ‘Don’t leave the project. If you do, they will be able to steal the whole amount’),” he quoted Neri as telling him.
“At that time, I accepted the logic of Neri,” he added.
Justice Jose Hernandez asked Lozada if that meant that it was OK to steal as long as the government would still save money.
The witness said he did not agree with the way the statement was posted.
Lozada was also asked if he wondered why Neri did not just come out to say that the project should be canceled because the government would lose money on it.
He replied: “That was one of the reasons I believe Secretary Neri said the former President was evil.”
Lozada also said Neri had told him of informing Arroyo about his (Neri’s) being offered P200 million to approve the project. He said that despite the information, Neri was instructed that the project should still be approved.
Lozada was also asked about his earlier testimony at a Senate committee hearing in which he referred to a “permissible zone” and a “forbidden zone” when it came to his moral psychology.
Villareal asked the witness if the alleged $65-million overprice in the NBN deal was within his “permissible zone.”
Lozada said what he considered permissible was small percentages. He also said he and Neri could not do anything about the $65-million overprice.
Villareal then said Lozada had proposed the $65-million margin to the NBN proponents.
Still under questioning by Villareal, Lozada said Abalos had told him at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club in Mandaluyong City that if the NBN deal would be approved, Abalos would allot P200 million for Neri.
Lozada quoted Abalos as saying that this would be unlike the case of other people he was talking with, who would have to wait for the loan proceeds.
He said he told Abalos that he and Neri should be the one to talk about it. He also told Neri about Abalos’ offer, but said he could not recall Neri’s reaction.
Villareal said that in an earlier testimony, Lozada claimed he could not recall any violent reaction from Neri.
The lawyer added that the significant testimony was the lack of any violent reaction.
Abalos has been charged in the Sandiganbayan in connection with his taking an interest in a project that was not related to his duties as Comelec chair.
South Rail project
Villareal also asked Lozada to confirm his earlier testimony that there was an overprice in the South Rail project, where he had participated.
He asked whether Lozada did anything about it.
Lozada said he had reported the matter to Neri but that he could not recall exactly when.
Villareal also asked Lozada to confirm if he was acting as Neri’s technical adviser even when he was working for the government as head of Philippine Forest Corp.
Lozada replied in the affirmative.
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