NBN-ZTE whistle-blower feels vindicated
MANILA, Philippines—Whistle-blower Joey de Venecia said he found fulfillment after learning that former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, had been indicted for graft in the government’s $329-million National Broadband Network deal with China’s ZTE Corp. that was scuttled in the wake of a corruption scandal.
“I feel vindicated for my actions and I have gained the respect of our countrymen,” said De Venecia, the businessman who exposed corrupt dealings in the national broadband deal four years ago.
“By blowing the whistle I exposed one of the largest single acts of corruption in our country’s history. My life has been at risk since then. I have had to protect myself and my immediate family. Powerful men asked me to stand down but I did not,” said De Venecia, the son of former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.
De Venecia, whose Amsterdam Holdings Inc. had made an unsolicited bid for the NBN project under a build-operate-transfer arrangement in December 2006, told a Senate inquiry that Arroyo’s husband, in the company of former elections commissioner Benjamin Abalos, had screamed at him to “back off” from the NBN project.
He claimed his proposal was shelved in favor of a deal with ZTE that was padded with kickbacks and advances to the tune of at least $130 million.
De Venecia said he was willing to help the government win its case.
”I am offering my support to the Ombudsman, in whatever means possible, so that justice may be served,” he said.
De Venecia appeared at a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing in September 2007 to expose the bribery-laced deal that was signed by government officials in China.
Arroyo canceled the deal a month after the start of the Senate probe.
“The anomalous ZTE deal characterized the excesses of the conjugal dictatorship of the Arroyos. Their being charged in court, and hopefully their eventual conviction, would signify a positive step for our justice system and our collective fight against corruption,” said De Venecia.
Aside from the Arroyos, the Ombudsman also charged at the Sandiganbayan Abalos and former Communication and Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza.
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