Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Monday, February 25, 2008

Joey de Venecia to bare more about Palace's cash advances

Jose "Joey" de Venecia III, the first to blow the whistle on the bribes and overpricing in the National Broadband Network-ZTE deal, has promised to bare more details of the cash advances received by former Commission on Election chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr. from the ZTE in the Senate hearing on Tuesday.

"I know for a fact that the President and FG (First Gentleman), Abalos and the whole Malacañang cabal have already received significant advances for this project," De Venecia told reporters during a press conference organized by local youth organizations here Saturday at Capitol University.

"Jun Lozada has given me a number on these advances and I would say it in the Senate, although Jun told me he might not be able to corroborate the exact number. What I know is that for each milestone in the deal, an advance was given. For example, when I went to Shinjian, China, Abalos was given $2 million by ZTE. When I go to the Senate on Tuesday, I will mention the numbers on these advances," De Venecia continued. (The firm founded by De Venecia, Amsterdam Holdings Inc. presented a build-operate-transfer proposal for the NBN deal and the trip to Shinjian, China, was an attempt to reconcile the proposals of AHI and the ZTE. Eventually, however, the AHI was elbowed out of the project, allegedly on the intervention of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.)

De Venecia was reacting to the statement made by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Wednesday that she knew of the NBN mess prior to her trip to China to witness the signing of the agreement.

"Yes, I agree that President Macapagal-Arroyo knew about the mess in the NBN deal prior to going to China. Secretary Neri, in a number of conversations that we had prior to the signing of the supply contract, talked about how he told her about the bribe but that she replied that 'you refuse the bribe but approve the project'," said De Venecia.

De Venecia was in the city to keynote a forum on good governance where he exhorted Mindanao youth to join the calls for the resignation of President Macapagal-Arroyo. In his speech, De Venecia recounted how he struggled with himself before exposing the truth behind the NBN project.

"I knew that telling the truth and exposing this to the public could cost me my life and will put my family in jeopardy. But I had to stand up for truth," he told the forum audience, composed mostly of student leaders and representatives of youth organizations in Mindanao.

De Venecia also led the signing of a youth manifesto, which affirmed the participation of major schools and universities in Mindanao in efforts to oust Arroyo.

Asked for his reaction to the supposed involvement of his father, former House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. in oil smuggling, the younger De Venecia replied, "I know my father, he wouldn't dabble in oil smuggling. If you ask around, you would know who the real smugglers in Subic are, and that is Mikey Arroyo … My father is never linked to any kind of smuggling." By Maria Cecilia Rodriguez - Inquirer Mindanao Bureau

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