Thursday, February 14, 2008

NBN-ZTE scandal creates mixed emotions

Mixed emotions have taken their toll on the role players, immediate family members and critics after the controversial and anomalous NBN-ZTE scandal erupted in the country's political atmosphere.

Not to be outfaced is the involvement of the Catholic Church in the scandal, that eventually resulted in the exchange of ginger shots between a popular running priest and a bishop in Nueva Ecija over ABS-CBN's early Friday morning program hosted by Mr. Anthony Taberna.

Finally, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Joselito Atienza admitted that he was the one who called up over the phone PNP Chief Avelino Razon to request police security for ZTE key witness Rodolfo Lozada.

Atienza said that he acted on his own after Lozada, being an executive of a government-controlled corporation under his department, had sought his help to ensure that the key witness would not be harmed when he arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, after a week-long trip in Hong Kong.

While abroad, the Senate committees had issued a warrant for Lozada's arrest for his failure to attend a scheduled public hearing to shed more light on the NBN-ZTE scandal, wherein the names of former Commission on Election Benjamin Abalos and First Gentleman Mike Arroyo were implicated as the masterminds allegedly behind the anomalous multi-million broadband contract between the Philippines and China.

In the meantime, a top official of the PNP Police Security Unit denied allegations that it received a formal request from the sister of Lozada to provide a security for her embattled brother. While PNP Chief Razon has expressed remorse over the involvement of his name in the alleged kidnapping of Lozada. His only regret is that he failed to ask a written request from the DENR official so that everything would have been in order.

As this developed, the two daughters of Atienza have cried foul over the involvement of their father in the said scandal, saying that their father is a good man whose reputation is beyond question.

Similarly, running priest Father Robert Reyes has accused the Catholic Church hierarchy of receiving donations from the previous and present presidents of the Philippines. Reyes admitted to Anthony Taberna during the ABS-CBN early morning program that the president is donating huge sums of money to some of the Catholic congregations, which he did not elaborate. Reyes also said that he even received an offer during the time of President Cory Aquino for P100,000 but he declined to receive it.

As a result, Reyes' declaration had infuriated Nueva Ecija bishop Villena, thinking that he was the one being referred to by Father Reyes because he was on the other line during the early morning program. What Reyes said was that the hands of some Catholic Church officials are tied because some of them are receiving donations from top government officials.

According to Reyes, he wouldn't be surprised that until now the Catholic Church hierarchy has kept itself mum on where to stand on the corruption scandal, except the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) which issued a call for communal action on the scandal to resolve the matter peacefully without any bloodshed. Reyes was reminded of the late Cardinal Sin who receives donations from government officials but get back at them when they did wrong to the hapless people. "This is not the case nowadays," Reyes said.

As this is being written, military troops and the police have been fielded to the various entry points in Metro Manila to block the entry of those who wish to hold unauthorized rallied in the metropolis.

However, thousands of protesters have started to amass themselves inside the Makati City business district so that the flow of traffic was disrupted along Paseo de Roxas, Ayala Avenue and Senator Gil Puyat Avenue. Therefore, rerouting of vehicles was effected today due to the presence of thousands of people along Ayala Avenue.

Makati City mayor Jejomar Binay is known in the political circle as belonging to the opposition group. His series of criticisms against the present administration has even put him at odds with some government officials. He even faced criminal lawsuits as a form of intimidation against him from those who wanted him ousted at his present post, which eventually failed to prosper in the proper courts.

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