ZTE witness open to become NBN consultant
Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr., the engineer who testified on the alleged irregularities in a $329.48-million national broadband network (NBN) deal between the Philippine government and a Chinese firm three years ago, is open to being a consultant if the present administration revives the NBN program.
In a radio interview Sunday afternoon, Lozada also voiced support for moves to reopen the Senate investigation into the deal with China’s ZTE Corp. in 2007, which was marred by accusations of corruption involving officials in the Arroyo administration.
“Sa akin, bukas ang kalooban ko ... Hindi siguro ako pagdududahan ng taumbayan kung sinabi kong bukas ang kalooban kong magsilbi sa bayan (I am open to it. I don’t think people will doubt me if I say I am willing to serve the country again)," he said in an interview on dzRH radio.
Lozada had served on the NBN-ZTE project under the Arroyo administration, but also testified on the irregularities surrounding it in 2008.
The Aquino administration is now considering the possibility of implementing such a project, to save on communications expenses for government offices. The NBN project, canceled after allegations of irregularities came out, aimed to improve government communications capabilities.
“Dati namang layunin niyan ang tiwangwang na telecom assets ng gobyerno, marami tayong telecom at ICT project na hindi ginamit. Marami nasa warehouse lang. Ang idea, sana magamit (The objective is to maximize the government’s telecommunications assets. We have many telecoms assets that are not being used and are just rotting away. We just want to maximize them)," Lozada said.
But he also urged the Aquino administration to double-check the figures in the NBN project, including the costs of running a telecommunications network.
Meanwhile, Lozada said he supports a move by senators to reopen the NBN-ZTE investigation, especially if it will mean sending former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel, as well as the other personalities involved, to jail.
The Arroyo couple were accused of receiving kickbacks from ZTE officials — an accusation that the couple had repeatedly denied.
“Sa akin yung paninindigan ko mga mastermind di nagbago. Kung ito magbibigay daan na makasuhan ang mag-asawang Arroyo at ibang personalidad sana naman... ang dami ko pa ring kaso (I have never changed my stand. If this investigation will pave the way for the filing of charges and eventual jailing of the Arroyos and the others involved in the mess, I am for it. I am still paying for it because of the charges they filed against me)," he said.
However, he also admitted he is apprehensive because of what this could do to his family. When he first testified in 2008, he and his family were granted refuge at the La Salle Greenhills.
“Sana kung finally mabibigyan daan ang katotohanan makita ng taumbayan at mapalagot ang may kasalanan, sana naman. Pero nakakatakot naman ayan babalik na naman. Natatakot ako para sa pamilya ko (I hope this will finally lead to the truth and to the punishment of the guilty. But still, I am apprehensive for my family’s safety)," he said.