NBN-ZTE Whistleblower Cries Foul

MANILA, Philippines --- Saying he was already tired when he turned state witness in 2008, former whistleblower Rodolfo Noel "Jun" Lozada Jr. expressed disappointment on Monday over the Sandiganbayan's order to have him arrested on graft charges.

In a radio interview, Lozada said the warrant of arrest issued against him by the Sandiganbayan on Jan. 23, 2013, is a big test as well as headache to him and his family.

In between sobs, he said his family especially his children had already suffered enough when he turned state witness in 2008 in the $329-million broadband deal which was then being investigated by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

"I am just wondering why this government of President Aquino is bent on pursuing the case against me when I am not their enemy," Lozada said.

He said he feels as if he is being persecuted despite his effort to unmask the truth behind the scrapped NBN-ZTE broadband deal.

He said he was not hiding and that he will consult first his lawyer to discuss the bail after the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division issued the arrest warrant against him.

However, Lozada said he will face the case and that he is determined to prove his innocence before the anti-graft court.

"They can arrest me if they want. Haharapin namin ito. Wala naman akong itinatago," Lozada said.

Lozada was charged by the Office of the Ombudsman with two counts of graft for allegedly granting leasehold rights over public lands to his own brother and to a private company with connections to him and his wife during his stint as president of the government-run Philippine Forest Corp. in 2007.

The complaint was filed by Erwin Santos, former Philippine Forest Corp. program development manager, who alleged that during Lozada's leadership, procurements made by the agency supposedly did not go through the normal bidding process, among other alleged irregularities.

Lozada was president and chief executive officer of Philforest, a government owned and controlled corporation under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) at that time.

Meanwhile, Malacañang advised Lozada to abide by the judicial process.

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) Secretary Ricky Carandang said there are no friends or foe when it comes to abiding the law.

"Certainly, I personally feel bad about what's happening to Jun but there's a process that has to be followed and, whether you're a friend or a foe or neutral, we all have to abide by that process," Carandang said in a press briefing yesterday.

Carandang said the Palace has nothing to do with Lozada's case.

"The charges against Jun Lozada were reviewed by the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman believes that there is sufficient basis to file charges against Jun Lozada. The Ombudsman is an independent body. There is very little that we can do to involve ourselves in that," he said. (With a report from Madel Sabater Namit)

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