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Old graft raps catch up with Lozada


05:28 AM August 16th, 2012

August 16th, 2012 05:28 AM

Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada

Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, the whistle-blower in the allegedly irregular NBN-ZTE deal during the Arroyo administration has himself been charged with two cases of graft in the Sandiganbayan for allegedly corrupt practices while he was president and chief executive officer of the state-owned Philippine Forest Corp. (PFC) in 2007 and 2008.

The Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday charged Lozada with violations of  the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, or Republic Act No. 3019, for leasing out public land to his brother and a private firm in which he had “a direct or indirect financial or pecuniary interest.”

In the first of the two cases, the Ombudsman said that Lozada had unlawfully awarded the lease contract of a piece of land under the PFC’s Lupang Hinirang program to the Transforma Quinta, a private corporation in which he and his wife, Ma. Violeta, had been appointed to act for and in its behalf in certain financial transactions.

It said Lozada committed the offense while in the performance of his official functions as PFC head, taking advantage of his position whose duties included the awarding of leasehold rights to qualified beneficiaries.

In the second case, Lozada, with his brother, Jose Orlando, was accused of conspiring to award the leasehold rights over 6.599 hectares of public land under the Lupang Hinirang program on Dec. 18, 2007.

The Ombudsman said that Lozada, also acting as PFC president and CEO, “with evident bad faith and/or manifest partiality,” awarded the leasehold rights to his brother despite knowing that the latter did not undergo the prescribed application process.

By doing so, Lozada “gave unwarranted benefit, preference and advantage to his brother over other qualified beneficiaries of the program, to the prejudice of public interest,” the Ombudsman said.

Jose Orlando was included in the charge for accepting the award fully aware of his lack of the needed requirement.

Bail of P30,000 was recommended for the temporary release of Lozada and his brother.

Lozada became something of a celebrity when he accused President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, of involvement in the alleged bribery that attended the award of the contract for the proposed national broadband network deal to China’s ZTE Corp. Arroyo canceled the contract after the allegations of corruption came out.

The Arroyo couple and several other former Arroyo administration officials have been charged with plunder and graft in connection with the NBN-ZTE deal. Cynthia D. Balana

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