Aquino urged: Grant Lozada immunity

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Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada

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.

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Tags: Broadband , Graft and Corruption , Rodolfo Lozada , ZTE Corp.

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