Thursday, February 07, 2008

Philippines - investigation into graft and procurement

Arroyo to DoJ: Find culprits in broadband deal

MANILA, Philippines -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered the Department of Justice (DoJ) on Thursday to determine who should be slapped with graft and procurement violations charges in connection with a scrapped $329-million telecoms contract.

"The President has directed the DoJ to conduct preliminary investigation against those who may be liable for violation of procurement laws as well as anti-graft laws in connection with the cancelled NBN/ZTE project," Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said Thursday.

He said Arroyo also directed the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation “to discuss with Congress the possibility of entering into a MoA [memorandum of agreement] on the service of warrants of Congress."

Arroyo issued the order in the wake of revelations of former government consultant Rodolfo Lozada that the contract awarded to China's ZTE Corp. for the National Broadband Network (NBN) project was overpriced.

Last year, Jose "Joey" de Venecia III, a losing bidder and the son of the recently ousted House speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. , told a Senate inquiry investigating the deal that Arroyo's husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, was promised a US$70 million kickback. The First Gentleman has denied any wrongdoing.

De Venecia III also claimed President Arroyo asked former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri why he did not take a P200 million (US$4.9 million) bribe allegedly offered by a former election official to approve the deal. Neri told the Senate he turned down the offer but refused to link Arroyo or her husband to the scandal.

No comments: