Aquino urged: Grant Lozada immunity
MANILA, Philippines—Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano has called on the Aquino administration to give whistle-blower Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada immunity now that he is facing arrest for a graft case filed against him at the Sandiganbayan.
“This is a very sad day for the ‘Tuwid na Daan’ because first of all, he (Lozada) should have been given immunity from the start,” Cayetano said at a press conference on Friday.
The senator noted that when former Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson testified against then President Joseph Estrada, Singson was given immunity.
“How come in the case of Jun Lozada, we have not heard any hype in going against the ZTE officials? Although the case is on going, there’s no further investigation,” he said, pointing out how Lozada was instrumental in stopping the alleged anomalous National Broadband Network deal with China’s ZTE.
“So I call on this government – even without strengthening the Witness Protection Law, even without the Whistle Blower Act – we can protect Mr. Lozada because this is a new government that believes in transparency and accountability by simply giving him immunity and giving him a status of being a witness of the government,” said the senator.
The Office of the Ombudsman, Cayetano said, may still withdraw the case filed against Lozada, who has been accused of allegedly granting a leasehold rights over public lands to his brother and private firm with connections to him and his wife when he was the president of Philippine Forest Corp. in 2007.
“The Ombudsman can always withdraw the case. They can always give him immunity or they can use him as a state witness or simply review the case filed against him,” he said.
“I don’t know whether he’s guilty or innocent but I believe in him and I believe that many of those who were star witnesses may have committed crimes before that but before they were given immunity,” he added.
Cayetano believed that the filing of the case against Lozada was the handiwork of people who wanted to get back at him after he exposed the NBN-ZTE deal anomaly.
“Before he exposed the ZTE, no cases were filed against him for that position,” he pointed out.