MANILA, Philippines – Whistle-blower Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada burst into tears Tuesday as he accused President Benigno Aquino III of turning a “blind eye” to the “midnight deals” of his executive secretary.
“You have shattered the hopes of the people. You have no right to be there,” said Lozada when asked for a message to the President in an interview with Radyo Inquirer 990 AM.
“He [Pres. Aquino] was selective. The deal involving Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and his brother-in-law was left untouched by Aquino because Ochoa was benefitting from it,” Lozada said, referring to the Arroyo administration’s lease of 2,000 hectares of forest land and beach-front property in Busuanga, Palawan province to Philippine Forest Corp. (Philforest).
Philforest has been identified by Malacañang as one of the five state entities which had been used as conduits in the anomalous release of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or “pork barrel” of lawmakers to fake nongovernment organizations (NGOs).
Lozada, a former Philforest president, said President Aquino should have canceled the agreement as he had promised to annul all agreements that Arroyo entered into during the last few weeks of her administration.
But “not all Arroyo midnight deals were cancelled by the Aquino administration,” Lozada said in the same radio interview.
Lozada pointed out that the President had full knowledge of Ochoa’s midnight deal activities but chose to “turn a blind eye to it.”
“Can you imagine Aquino, who promised “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” and promised “daang matuwid,” but knew all of these?” said Lozada. “They justified this as sin of omission and not sin of commission. But it’s the same sin,” he said.
Lozada, the principal witness in the $329-million graft-ridden broadband deal implicating then President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as an accessory to the corruption in 2007, presented documents to the Philippine Daily Inquirer that revealed that Ochoa allegedly got shares in the Philforest deal.
Arroyo signed Presidential Proclamation No. 2057 on May 7, 2010—three days before the general elections— that authorized Philforest to develop the Busuanga lands.
Lozada said the Palace ordered the scrapping of the deal because “they were caught red-handed (nabisto), not because they wanted to clean the agency.”
“They’re following the same footsteps of the Arroyo administration. Similar to the NBN-ZTE deal, they (Arroyo administration) cancelled the contract because they were caught involved with it,” he said, referring to the $329-million graft-ridden telecommunications contract with China.
“This is as midnight as midnight can get and yet the Palace refused to recall the proclamation!” said Lozada.
“They knew about this ever since. The Palace is not innocent,” he added.