Militant lawmakers want ZTE banned pending clarity in NBN mess
MANILA, Philippines—Militant lawmakers on Friday said ZTE Corp., China’s largest telecommunication supplier, should be barred from operating in the Philippines if it refused to cooperate in the graft charges filed with the Sandiganbayan against former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares said ZTE should be banned especially since the Ombudsman has indicted those involved in the $329-million national broadband network project.
“It is impossible for ZTE officials like Yu Yong (vice president) and Fan Yang (director) not to know about the irregularities,” said Colmenares in a text message.
Akbayan Representative Walden Bello said that ZTE should not be allowed to operate in the country unless its record in the NBN scandal has been clarified.
“If it (ZTE) is guilty of bribery and violations of bidding rules, it should be banned, at least for a lengthy period, from operating in the country. However, lack of cooperation in the prosecution of (Arroyo) would be grounds for permanently banning (the Chinese firm). As much as possible, the ZTE people should be called in as witnesses for the prosecution. If they refuse, they should be tried as accomplices,’’ said Bello.
The Ombudsman filed charges against Arroyo for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (R.A. 3019) and Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (R.A 6713) based on a complaint filed by Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño.
Arroyo’s co-accused include her husband, Jose Miguel, former Commision on Elections chair Benjamin S. Abalos, Sr. and former transportation and communication secretary Leandro R. Mendoza.
Arroyo has been accused of entering into a contract manifestly disadvantageous to the government; of approving for personal gain despite knowing the irregularities and anomalies involved in its finalization; and of unethical behavior after accepting gifts from the ZTE, such as playing golf in Shenzhen, China while the deal was being ironed out.
Colmenares said that President Aquino should continue to be more aggressive in scrutinizing other deals entered into with Chinese companies during the Arroyo administration on allegations that these have likewise been tainted with corruption.
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