From accuser to defendant to convict facing up to 10 years in prison: The fate of whistleblower Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada is an indictment of the Philippine justice system, according to Senator Panfilo Lacson.
On Friday on Twitter, Lacson brought up the case of Lozada, who turned himself in to the National Bureau of Investigation on Thursday following the Supreme Court’s confirmation of his conviction for bribery in connection with a land deal involving the company. of State Philippine Forest Corp. (PFC). — “shows the unbalanced scale of justice in the country”.
“Never mind the ‘guilty verdict’ for corruption he committed as CEO of the [PFC]. It’s the dismissal of the NBN-ZTE cases that tips the scales,” the senator lamented, referring to the controversial and ultimately scuttled national broadband network deal between President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration. and Chinese company ZTE Corp.
Lacson, who unsuccessfully ran for president in the May election and is leaving the Senate before the start of the 19th Congress in July, ended his tweet with a Latin maxim that no one is above the law. “Lex non a rege est violanda (The law must not be violated even by the king). “Always in NBI
Lozada remains in NBI custody pending transfer to New Bilibid prison, a source said on Friday.
“According to our lawyers, we can no longer share information as we try to cope with the forced separation and fight to [his] freedom,” the parent said in a message to the Inquirer.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra declined to comment on Lozada’s transfer to the National Penitentiary, saying he had yet to see any recognizance orders issued by the Sandiganbayan anti-corruption court.
In testimony to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s investigation into the 2007 NBN-ZTE deal, IT expert Lozada exposed the alleged cost escalation and corruption that plagued the 329-year contract. million dollars for the installation of a broadband network linking government offices nationwide. He said then-Secretary of Socio-Economic Planning Romulo Neri recruited him to review the deal from which Arroyo’s allies, including Elections Commission Chairman Benjamin Abalos, were supposed to earn huge commissions.
Testimony from Lozada and others, along with the lawsuits filed against the deal, led to the cancellation of the contract and the subsequent filing of corruption charges against Arroyo.
This case was dismissed in 2016. Abalos, accused in the same way, was also acquitted.
In the years that followed, corruption charges were filed against Lozada and her brother Orlando. The case involved PFC CEO Lozada awarding his brother a lease of 6,599 hectares of public land under the agency’s Lupang Hinirang program without going through the regular application process. .
The brothers were found guilty and found guilty of bribery by the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division in August 2016. They appealed to the Supreme Court.
In a decision dated July 28, 2021, but only recently made public on its website, the high court denied the brothers’ petition for a review of their bribery conviction and sentenced them to six to 10 years in prison and to prison. permanent ban from holding public office.
Last month, Arroyo was re-elected to represent Pampanga’s second district, and Abalos was proclaimed mayor of Mandaluyong City, his family’s bailiwick.
Lacson and Arroyo became political enemies when the then-president believed accusations in 2001 that he maintained offshore accounts believed to hold millions of dollars raised through criminal activity when he was chief of staff. Philippine National Police under President Joseph Estrada.
There was no apology to Lacson in Arroyo’s recently published book “Deus Ex Machina”, but she acknowledged that she could have hurt him by believing the information provided by whistleblower Angelo “Ador “Mawanay, aka Antonio Luis Marquez.
Mawanay later retracted his claims, as did former senior military intelligence officer Victor Corpus, who apologized to Lacson in 2017.
In February, Lacson said he and Arroyo had buried the hatchet and he had long since forgiven her. —With a report by Marlon Ramos
Cavite’s representative, Boying Remulla, will be justice secretary under the Marcos cabinet
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