The Quality of Morality

Earworms
-Ever Dream by Nightwish (again): [Piano version]
Projects
-checking The Prophet long test
The Black and the Purple chapter III: Dagger in the Dark

So there’s been this big scandal that’s been going on recently in the Philippine government. The ZTE broadband scandal has been raising clouds of dust and ruffling feathers in government circles recently, and it didn’t help that Rolando Lozada Jr, one of the star witnesses against the administration, was abducted by the police as soon as he returned from Hong Kong.

Now I don’t want to preempt his [testimony], which I will be posting here in a bit. Most of the testimony is in Tagalog, so please bear with me. (I shall translate for foreigners). I just think it’s right for the world to know what goes on in this country.

WHY HE FLEW TO HONG KONG

Matagal na ho akong inimbita ng Senado, noong Setyembre pa ho. Hindi ho ako pumupunta dahil natatakot ako. At nagpaalam ho ako kina Secretary Neri na inimbita na ako, binanggit po ata raw ako ni Senator Pimentel, tinanong po si Joey raw kung kilala ako. So, magmula ho noong araw na iyon takot na ako na baka mapunta ako rito.

It has been a while since I was invited by the Senate [to testify], it was back last September. I did not go because I was afraid. I let Secretary Neri that I was invited, I was mentioned by Senator Pimentel, and Joey [de Venecia] was asked if he knew me. So since that day I was afraid that I would end up here.

Sinabi ko ho kina Secretary Neri iyon, sumulat ako sa DENR — kay Secretary Atienza — na iniiimbita ako at sinabi ko kina Secretary Neri sana huwag ako makarating sa Senado. Matagal na ho iyon, akala ko patay na iyong NBN-ZTE deal na iyon para sana tuloy-tuloy na ko sa tuba-tuba. Masaya ho ako doon sa ginagawa kong trabaho. At noong lumabas na naman po iyong subpoena, sinabi ni si Secretary Neri na bahala na raw ho ang Palasyo sa akin.

I told Secretary Neri and I wrote to DENR’s Secretary Atienza that I was being invited and told Secretary Neri that I did not want to go to the Senate. That was a long time ago, I thought the NBN-ZTE deal had long died down so I’d be able to move on. I was happy with my job. And when the subpoena came out, Secretary Neri said that the Palace would take care of me.

Pumunta ko kay Secretary Atienza na hindi naman alam kung ano ang kinalaman ko rito eh. Noong pumunta po ako sa office ni Secretary Atienza two days before iyong hearing dito, tinanong po niya ako, pinapasok niya ako sa kwarto sa DENR. Sabi niya: “Jun ano ba kinalaman mo rito? Sabi ko: Sec ano ba gusto mong kwento, iyong salient points lang o from the top? Sabi niya from the top, ikwento mo sa akin lahat. Ikinuwento ko sa kanya lahat?at sabi niya, kapag ikinuwento mo sa publiko ito, magagalit sila. Ibibigay mo itong gobyernong ito sa oposisyon.

I went to Secretary Atienza not knowing what I had to do with this. When I went to his office two days before the hearing, Secretary Atienza asked me in a room in DENR. He said: “Jun, what do you have to do with this?” I answered: “Sec, what do you want to hear? Just the salient points or everything from the top?” He said “From the top, tell me everything.” I told him, and he said, “If you tell the public, they’ll get angry. You’ll be giving this government to the opposition.”

Sabi ko: Sir, ayoko din pong mapunta doon. Hindi ko naman ho gulo iyan eh. Simpleng tao lang po ako at marami na po akong death threats. Sabi niya o sige, tingnan natin ang magagawa natin para hindi ka makarating doon. Ano ba ang gusto mo? Sabi ko ito lang ang gusto kung mangyari sana: Huwag niyo na akong paratingin sa Senado. Tigilan na iyong death threats sa akin. At pangatlo ho, kung ako makakarating sa Senadobaka hindi ako makapag-sinungaling.

I said: Sir, I don’t want to end up there either. It’s none of my business, anyway. I’m a simple man and I already have received a lot of death threats. He said “Alright, let’s see what we can do to avoid you getting there. What do you want?” I told him what I wanted to happen: Don’t let me get to the Senate. Make them stop threatening me. And third, when I get to the Senate, I might not be able to lie.

Noong Martes pumunta ako kay Deputy Executive Secretary Manny Gaite because nobody knew my role, very few people knew my role, so pinagpaliwanag pa rin ho uli ako ng mga tao ni Manny Gaite. Sabi nila ganoon uli: Anong gusto mo? I’ve been very consistent sa buhay ko. Inulit ko sa kanila, Huwag n’yo na lang hong paratingin sa Senado. Patigilin iyong death threats I have to tell them the truth under oath.

When Tuesday came, I went to Deputy Executive Secretary Manny Gaite because nobody knew my role, very few people knew my role, so I had to explain myself to Manny Gaite’s staff. They told me the same thing: What do you want? I’ve been very consistent in my life. I told them, don’t let me get to the Senate. Make the death threats stop. I will have to tell [the Senate] the truth under oath.

Sabi noong mga tao ni Deputy Secretary Gaite na pinag-aaralan iyong mga legal remedies para huwag ako makarating sa Senado mukhang wala silang makitang legal remedy to stop the Senate from getting me. So they decided right there and then..sabi nila kailangan nang lumabas si Jun. So, inayos po nila iyong travel documents ko, pinagawa ako ng mga travel request, pina-ante-date at pinaalis po ako papuntang Hong Kong. Wala po akong balak mambastos ng senador pero naniniwala ako na habang ako ay nasa gobyerno, l will toe the government line.

Deputy Secretary Gaite’s staff said that they were studying the legal remedies that will prevent me from getting to the Senate, and it doesn’t look like they can do anything to Stop the senate from getting me. So they decided right there and then…they said “Jun has to get out [of the country.]” So they fixed my travel documents, wrote up ante-dated travel requests and sent me to Hong Kong. I had no intentions of disrespecting senators but I believed that while I was working for the government, I will toe the government line.

WHAT HAPPENED IN HONG KONG?

…tinawagan ako ni Secretary Neri. Gumawa raw ako ng sulat para kay Senator Enrile para raw ma-withdraw iyong motion na arestuhin ako, dahil pinapaaresto na raw po ako. Sabi ko hindi ko naman kilala si Senator Enrile. Baka magtataka iyon dahil hindi niya naman ako kilala. Sabi nila sumulat ka na lang kami na bahala. Hindi ko nga alam kung ano ang isusulat. They texted me what to write. Hindi ko na lang natago iyong text.

Secretary Neri called me. He told me to write a letter to Senator Enrile to ask that the motion to arrest me be withdrawn–they said I was going to be arrested. I told him that I didn’t know Senator Enrile, and he might be suspicious [if I wrote to him] because he doesn’t even know me. He told me to write it anyway and that he’d take care of it. I didn’t know what to write. They texted me what to write, but I wasn’t able to keep the message.

So last week, tinawagan ako ni Secretary Atienza. Sabi niya, kailan ka ba dapat umuwi? So umuwi ka na ng February 5…iyong alanganing oras ka umuwi. Ako naman po masaya dahil gusto ko naman pong umuwi na…Sabi ko: “Sec paano po iyong arrest warrant sa akin?” Sabi niya, nakausap na namin si Libanan. Okay ka na sa Immigration basta dumere-deretso ka lang. Hindi ka iho-hold ng Immigration. Tapos pasalubong ka na lang.

So last week, Secretary Atienza called me. He asked me when I had to go home. He told me to go home on February 5th…to go home at an odd time. I was happy because I wanted to go home. I told him “Sec, what about the arrest warrant?” He said, “We’ve been able to talk to Libanan. You’re good to go through immigration, just go straight. They won’t hold you. Just ask someone to pick you up.”

WAS HE ABDUCTED UPON ARRIVAL?

Sa pag-apak na pag-apak ko, they grabbed me by my arms and said: “Eto na, eto na ang subject.” Kinuha ako, nilabas ako sa tube. Sabi ko: “Teka, teka may mga sasalubong sa akin dito at sabi sa akin ni Secretary I have to go to Immigration.”

The moment I stepped off the plane, [the police] grabbed me by my arms and said: “Here he is, here’s the subject.” They got me, brought me out of the tube. I told them “Wait, wait, someone’s going to pick me up here and the Secretary told me to go through immigration.”

“Hindi, hindi ipinapakuha ka sa amin.” Dinala po ako…napakabilis ng mga pangyayari, narinig ko lang sa radyo nila: “Huwag kayong dadaan diyan. Andiyan iyong mga taga-Senado.” So nilihis po nila ako… Lumabas po kami, kilala sila ng mga security airport…inikot-ikot kami sa airport, tapos dinaan sa Villamor, sa Fort Bonifacio…naririnig nila lahat ng radyo doon sa Senado… They’re pretty well equipped.Naaawa nga ako sa mga taga-Senado. Kwentuhan sila nang kuwentuhan, naririnig naman sila ng mga kumuha sa akin.

“No, they told us to pick you up.” They brought me…it all happened very fast, I heard on their radio: “Don’t pass there. The Senate people are there.” So they brought me by another way…we went out, the airport security knew them…brought us around the airport in circles, brought us through Villamor, through Fort Bonifacio…they could hear all the Senate radios…They’re pretty well-equipped. I felt sorry for the Senate people. They kept talking and talking, but everything they said was heard by my abductors.

…dadalhin daw ata ako sa Dasmariñas, Cavite. So sinilent mode ko na po ‘yung telepono ko. And I texted my brother na may dumukot na sa akin…so naturally my family was really, really alarmed. So ako naman po ng narinig ko na nasa Southwoods na kami… na sa Dasmariñas, Cavite ako dadalhin, naisip ko po si Dacer. So nag-text ako kaagad sa kapatid ko na i-triangulate kaagad kung nasaan itong telepono ko. Telecom engineer naman po ako so alam ko ang mga kakayahan sa telecom. Sabi ko, “Do your best to triangulate and find this signal. Tapos sinabihan nila ako: “Sir, tumigil na po kayo sa kate-text. Nakukuha lang naman namin eh.”

They said they’d bring me to Dasmarinas, Cavite. I put my phone on silent mode. And I texted my brother that I had been abducted, so naturally my family was really, really alarmed. I also became afraid when I heard I was at Southwoods, and that they were bringing me to Dasmarinas, Cavite. I thought of [Bubby] Dacer. So I immediately texted my brother to triangulate my position using my cellphone signal. Since he’s a telecom engineer, I knew what he could do. I told him “do your best to triangulate and find this signal.” Then [my abductors] told me: “Sir, please stop texting. We can get it anyway.”

Tapos noong nasa may Los Baños na kami, may natanggap silang tawag. Sabi noong mga nasa harapan ko, “Ibalik na raw, ibalik na raw. Napakainit na raw ng media.’ Nagpapasalamat po ako sa mga taga-mediang naghanap sa akin.

When we got to Los Banos, my abductors received a call. Those in front of me said, “Bring him back, they say bring him back. The media’s heated up already.” I’d like to thank the media people who looked for me.

DID HE REQUEST FOR POLICE SECURITY PROTECTION?

Nung pabalik na kami, tumigil kami sa isang gasoline station, gumawa ka sir ng sulat na nagre-request ka ng security detail sa amin…So ginawa ko rin po iyon. And then ibinalik na ako sa Maynila…dinala po nila ako sa Outback (restaurant) sa Libis. Pagdating po namin doon, tinurnover na po ako. Nakilala ko na ngayon si… Ang pakilala niya sa akin si George… pero siya pala si Paul Mascariñas at nanduon si Atty. Bautista. They were supposed to have dinner.

When we got back, we stopped at a gasoline station, [they said] “Sir, write a letter that says you requested for our security detail.” I did what I was told. They brought me back to Manila…brought me to Outback Restaurant at Libis. When I got there, they turned me over. I recognized…he said he was George, but he actually was Paul Mascarinas and Atty. Bautista was there. They were supposed to have dinner.

…nung pabalik na ‘ko, kahit pala nung papunta pa ‘ko. Tinawagan ako ni Secretary Atienza. Sabi niya: “Jun huwag kang mag-alala. Relax ka lang. Mga tao natin ‘yan. Relax ka lang.’ Tapos tumawag din po si Secretary Neri. Sabi niya: ‘Jun, calm your wife down. Calm your wife down. They’re panicking in the media.” Sabi ko: “Sir, she cannot calm down. I have to go. She has to see me. Hindi titigil iyon.”

When I was on my way back, and even when I was on the way. Secretary Atienza called me. “Jun, don’t worry. Just relax. Those are our people. Just relax.” Then Secretary Neri called. He said “Jun, calm your wife down. Calm your wife down. They’re panicking in the media. I said “Sir, she cannot calm down. I have to go. She has to see me. She won’t stop.”

…sabi ko kay Secretary Neri: “Rom, gusto ko nang umuwi.” So dinala po ako roon sa Outback sa Libis. Nandun na si Atty. Bautista… obviously he knows me already…mukhang they decided to bring me na to the Senate dahil daw sa sobrang init na. But they want me to sign my affidavit first before I go to the Senate.

I told Secretary Neri: “Rom, I want to go home.” So they brought me to Outback at Libis. Atty. Bautista was there…obviously he knows me already…it looks like they decided to bring me to the Senate because things were really heating up. But they wanted me to sign my affidavit first before I go to the Senate.

…Takot pa rin ako noon. So pwede bang sa La Salle Greenhills na lang. Kasi ‘yung mga anak ko, tinago, kung baga nasa sanctuary na ng La Salle Greenhills. Tinutulungan na ho ng mga Brothers dun. Isa rin ho sila sa malaking pasasalamatan ko.

I was still afraid. So could we just go to La Salle Greenhills instead? My children were in hiding there, in the sanctuary of La Salle Greenhills. The Brothers there were helping them. I also thank them profusely.

..Kinabukasan ho, kinuha uli ako. Dinala ako sa office ni Atty. Bautista where he has already prepared the affidavit for me. And I had to fill out certain blanks there. Address ng opisina namin. Anong klaseng engineer ba ako…Sabi ko: “Atty Bautista, I have some reservations about this affidavit.” Sabi niya: “Okay lang iyan. Just sign it. Para na rin sa comfort ng Malacañang iyan. So I signed it. And they brought me back to La Salle Greenhills para makapagpahinga na rin ako, to prepare for the Senate hearing which was supposed to be yesterday.

The next day, they took me again and brought me to the office of Atty. Bautista where he had already prepared the affidavit for me. And I had to fill out certain blanks there. My office address, what kind of engineer I was. I said “Atty. Bautista, I have some reservations about this affidavit.” He said: “It’s alright. Just sign it. It’s for Malacanang’s comfort. So I signed it. And they brought me back to La Salle Greenhills so I could rest and prepare for the Senate hearing which was supposed to be yesterday.

DEFENSOR’S VISIT

…Noong gabi pong iyon, binisita rin ako ni Mike, Mike Defensor. Magkaibigan po kami nun. Binisita po ako ni Mike. At meron po ‘ata (akong) nakalimutan. Nung nandun ho pala si Col. Mascariñas, tinawagan din po pala niya ako. Gusto kang makausap ni General Razon. Nakikita kong hirap na hirap si Gen. Razon. Sabi ko sa kanya: “Sir, pasensya na po kayo. Pati kayo nadadamay sa akin…he was forced to say a lie. So naawa ako sa kanya actually. I know he’s a good man but napipilitan pa siyang magsinungaling.

That night, I was visited by Mike Defensor. We were friends. He visted me. I also forgot, Col. Mascarinas also called me. He said General Razon wanted to talk to me. I saw that General Razon was having great difficulty. I told him: “Sir, I’m sorry for dragging you into this…he was forced to say a lie. I felt sorry for him, actually. I know he’s a good man but he was forced to lie.”

…Noong pumunta po si Mike nung gabi na iyon, sabi sa akin ni Mike: “Pare, this thing has grown out of… way, way out of proportion.” Sabi niya: “Di bale, di bale, gagawan natin ng paraan iyan.Pwede bang tumawag ka na ngayon sa media…just make a statement na hindi ka naman talaga kinidnap. Na wala ka naman talagang alam dito…Puwede bang bukas mag-press conference ka na. Kaya iyang press conference na iyan, press conference ni Mike ‘yan eh (laughs). Kasi sabi ko kay Mike, “Mike lahat naman ng inuutos niyo sa akin, sinusunod ko kaya lang sabog nang sabog. Sabi niya sa akin umalis ako, pumunta ako ng Hong Kong dahil tapos na ito, closure report na. Hindi, pinaaresto ako. Kaysa umayos, lalong lumala, pinaaresto ako.

When Mike went to me that night, he said “Pare, this thing has grown out of…way,way out of proportion.” He said: “No worries, we’ll find a way. Could you just call the media now, just make a statement that you weren’t really kidnapped? That you don’t really know anything about this…could you hold a press conference tomorrow? So that press conference was actually Mike’s. I told Mike, “Mike, everything you tell me to do I follow, just that it keeps blowing up.” He told me to leave, I went to Hong Kong because it was over and done with, all it needed was a closure report. No, I was arrested. Instead of fixing it, it got worse because they had me arrested.

THE PRESS CONFERENCE IN LA SALLE

..Ikinuwento ko sa asawa ko ‘yung plano na magpapa-press conference na ako. My wife, sabi niya, ‘Puwede bang tawagin na natin si Sister…Tinawag na namin sila Sister, iyong mga kaibigan naming madre. Sinabi nga ng asawa ko iyong predicament namin…Sabi ko: “If I do this, I’ll get stuck into this already. Tuluy-tuloy na. Kasali na ako rito.”

I told my wife my plan to have a press conference. My wife asked if we could call Sister…we called Sister up, one of our nun friends. My wife told her our predicament. I said “If I do this, I’ll get stuck into this already. All the way. I’m in on this.”

“Nagdesisyon po ako, which really made my wife freak out, na I will just go to the Senate na lang. I will submit myself to the Senate panel. Enough of this, sabi ko. Hindi na ko makikisali sa mga pinapapirmahan sa akin.”…Sabi namin sus maryosep alas dos y media na po ata ‘yun o ala una na…”May tao bang pupunta sa atin?”

I made a decision, which really made my wife freak out, that I would just go to the Senate. I will submit myself to the Senate panel. Enough of this, I said. I won’t go on with what they were having me sign. We said, “For Christ’s sake,”… it was two thirty or one AM… “Would anybody still go to us?”

HIS ROLE IN THE ZTE SCANDAL

…Ang sasabihin ko po ay ‘yung aking personal na partisipasyon lang… At uulitin ko po, ikukuwento ko lang ito without malice to no one.

I will only talk about my personal participation. I repeat, I am telling this story without malice to anyone.

Nag-umpisa po itong partisipasyon ko sa ZTE-NBN sometime late September 2006, nung ipinakilala po sa akin ni Secretary Neri si chairman Abalos sa Wack-Wack because chairman Abalos wanted to pursue a telecom project in government. And usually sa mga ganyang pag-uusap, the secretary would always invite me… very light lang, kwentu-kwentuhan. And then sabi ni Secretary Neri, O Jun ano ang tingin mo? Sabi ko it’s a project. So sabi niya let chairman Abalos course it through the proper channels.

It started sometime late September 2006, when I was introduced to Chairman Abalos by Secretary Neri at Wack-Wack because Chairman Abalos wanted to pursue a telecom project in government. And usually in those kinds of discussions, the secretary would always invite me, just small talk. And then Secretary Neri asked me, “What do you think, Jun?” I said “It’s a project.” So he said “Let Chairman Abalos course it through the proper channels.

…a few weeks after that… the first proposal came from CICT to NEDA. The Secretary gave me a draft …sabi niya Jun tingnan mo, pag-aralan mo kung ano iyon mga nandito…I remembered reviewing the docus especially the financials, at sabi ko, the most salient point I can remember po after that, sanay naman po akong tumingin ng mga project body, is the financial basis for the entire financial projection, so many spreadsheets of the financial justification. But what struck me the most was that, iyong basis nila of gov’t telecom expenses dahil ‘yun po ang ginamit nila na para maging basehan ng kanilang napakaraming projection, they took it from a tabloid. They took it from Abante Tonite na September 20, 2006 issue. From that factor alone I said, how the heck can a multi-billion project of government be based upon figures coming from a tabloid?

A few weeks after that, the first proposal came from CICT to NEDA. The Secretary gave me a draft. He told me “Jun, take a look at this. Study the contents. I remembered reviewing the docs, especially the financials, and I said the most salient point I can remember after that, I’m used to going over project bodies, is the financial basis for the entire financial projection, so many spreadsheets of the financial justification. But what struck me the most was that their basis of government telecom expenses—most of them came from a tabloid. They took it from Abante Tonite, September 20, 2006 issue. From that factor alone, I said how the heck can a multi-billion project of the government be based on figures from a tabloid?

…after a few weeks, Secretary Neri again invited me to a core presentation sa NEDA kasi daw ‘yung anak ni Joe De Venecia will make a presentation, about broadband network din.So nandun ako, nagpunta rin ako, may broadband network project din si Joey mukhang maganda naman, maganda pong magsalita si Joey, tapos B-O-T…And then nung tinanong ako ni Sec Neri – Jun, kamusta na ba ‘yung mga project na to? How are they different? Sabi ko, they are only different in their financial transaction to government. One is BOT, one is on a loan basis. Sabi niya, can you reconcile?

After a few weeks, Secretary Neri again invited me to a core presentation at NEDA because the son of Joe de Venecia would make a presentation about broadband networks as well. So I was there, I also attended, Joey also had a broadband network project that looked good, Joey speaks well,and B-O-T [Build Operate Transfer]…and then when I was asked by Sec Neri “Jun, what’s up with these projects? how are they different?” I said “They are only different in their financial transaction to government. One is BOT, one is on a loan basis. He said, “Can you reconcile?”

…So I called them up for a meeting and met with them and I proposed for a structure. Kung ang objective ni Joey is to do BOT, si Chairman Abalos is to do a supply agreement with gov’t, sabi ko why don’t we do it this way: eto si Joey ‘ka ko let him have his BOT, anyway wala namang financial sa gobyerno. Tapos ikaw chair, dahil ano mo naman MODERATING THE GREED.

So I called them up for a meeting and met with them and I proposed for a structure. If Joey’s objective is to do BOT, Chairman Abalos’s is to do a supply agreement with the government. I said why don’t we do it this way: Let Joey have his BOT, anyway, the financial side won’t be handled by the government. And you chair it because you say “MODERATING THE GREED.”

..the trouble started when chairman Abalos called me. He said: Jun, mukhang maganda na itong structure na ito. Proteksyunan mo lang yung 130 natin diyan. Sabi ko chair, mukhang malaki iyon… Baka po 65 pwede pa, kasi 65 out of 200, ano baka mga 33 percent, bale sasabihin ko po kay Joey.

The trouble started when Chairman Abalos called me, saying “Jun, this structure looks good. Just protect our 130 [million dollars]. I said Chair, that looks to big… maybe 65 might be doable, because 65 out of 200 is around 33%, I’ll have to tell Joey.

…Nung sinabi ko kay Joey na Abalos wanted 130…Joey has a very colorful language…sabi ko kay chair Abalos, sir, malabo talaga…hindi kayo pwedeng dumiretso kasi loan basis iyang proyekto ninyo. Kabilin-bilinan po sa akin ni Secretary Neri… at according po kay Presidente ang NBN BOT lang ho dapat iyan….medyo nagagalit siya. Sabi niya, “o sige tawagan natin si pare. Tawagan natin si FG [First Gentleman Mike Arroyo].”

When I told Joey that Abalos wanted 130…Joey used some very colorful language…I told Chair Abalos, “Sir, doesn’t look doable at all, you cant go straight because your project’s on a loan basis. Sec Neri instructed me…and according to the President the NBN should only be BOT…he’s a bit angry.” He said, Okay, let’s call pare. Let’s call FG.”

…kinabukasan po may dumating na sulat galing ba’t ba sinabi kong kinabukasan, basta right after. Basta napakabilis po, may dumating na sulat mula sa Chinese ambassador na binigyan ng kopya iyong NEDA na meron nang available na loan facility sa NBN, independent of the cyber education. So napabilib ho ako dun. Nag-report ako kay Secretary Neri sabi ko, Rom, siga talaga tong si chairman, no? Sabi niya, Jun, kaya mag-iingat ka. Mag-iingat ka kasi hindi pwedeng mag ano ‘yan, so do your best na maano yan. And sabi niya, you moderate their greed.”

The next day a letter arrived from–uh, why did I say the next day?—it was right after. It was very quick anyway; a letter arrived from the Chinese ambassador that NEDA was given a copy of. It said that there was already an available loan facility for NBN, independent of the cyber education project. That amazed me. I told Secretary Neri, saying “Rom, chairman’s pretty badass, isn’t he?” He said “Jun, that’s why you take care. Take care because that can’t [flop], do your best to [pull it through.] He said, “You moderate their greed.”

…So nagpunta na sila ng China. Dapat po kasama ako doon, buti na lang sinabihan ako ni Secretary Neri na huwag nang sumama at magulo iyang grupo na iyan….Pagbalik po nila ng Enero, eto na anaman po may lunch na naman po kami…sa Shangri-La Makati..Si Secretary Neri, ako, si chairman Abalos, iyong bagong commercial counselor ng China, ZTE, at iyong usual na kasama ni chair Abalos pinalalabas po ni chair Abalos sa kwentuhan sa ZTE na OK na iyong project.

So they went to China. I should have been with them, but it was a good thing Secretary Neri told me not to go with them as their group was pretty rowdy. When they got back in January, again we met over lunch at Shangri-La Makati. Secretary Neri, myself, Chairman Abalos, the new commercial counselor of China, ZTE, and the usual were with Chair Abalos. Chair Abalos implied in his chatting with ZTE that the project was OK.

…Secretary Neri took exception to the project. Sabi niya, no hindi pwede iyan, hindi talaga pwedeng loan, ang project niyo dapat BOT.” Insist po nang insist iyong mga taga-ZTE na gusto nila ng financial package sa NBN dapat may loan agreement parang sa Northrail.

Secretary Neri took exception to the project. He said, “No, that’s not possible. A loan really isn’t allowed, and the project should be BOT. The ZTE people kept insisting that they wanted a financial package for NBN that had a loan agreement, like the Northrail project.

…Noong nakita niyang (Neri) nagkakainitan na iyong ulo ng mga tao doon, sabi niya aalis na po, guys I have to leave in 5 minutes…but Jun will stay behind.” Sabi ko, patay…I walked with himsabi ko anong instructions mo dito?Sabi niya, find out what’s happening. Pagpasok ko sa kwarto, nagsisigawan na si chairman Abalos at iyong mga taga-ZTE….

When Neri saw that tempers were heating up, he excused himself, but said that I’d be staying. I thought to myself ‘I’m dead.’ I walked with him, asking for instructions. He told me to find out what was happening. When I got into the room, Chairman Abalos and the ZTE people were already screaming at each other.

…noong January 18 po, umawag po si chairman Abalos sa akin, sabi niya: Jun, alam ba ni Neri ang ginagawa niyo? Opo, chair. Di ba alam mo namang malapit ako sa militar? Opo, chair. Di ba malapit naman ako sa intelligence? Opo, chair. Alam ko po malapit siya sa 17, iyong mga nandoon sa wiretapping.

On January 18, Chairman Abalos called me, asking if Neri knew what we were doing. “Yes, chair.” “Don’t you know I’m close to the military?” “Yes, chair.” “Am I not close to intelligence?” “Yes, chair.” I knew he was close to 17, those who do wiretapping.

Tapos pinagmumura niya po ako. Lahat ng klase ng mura. Kumota po ako nung gabing iyon. Sabi niya iyong CD ninyo nina Joey, nandirito sa akin lahat. Mga hayop kayo! Ipagsasampal ko sa inyo lahat ito. Ako pa tinalo ninyo. At ang tinapos niya sa akin, iyong tawag niya. Sabi niya PI ka, huwag kang magpapakita sa akin sa Wack-Wack o sa Mandaluyong at ipapapatay kita.

Then he started swearing at me. All kinds of cuss words. I got my quota that night. He said “The CD of your discussions with Joey, everything, is with me. You animals, I ought to slap the lot of you with these. You beat me of all people.” And he finished his call by saying “You son of a bitch, don’t ever show your face to me again in Wack-Wack or at Mandaluyong or I will have you killed.”

..I told Rom…my goodness, you have put me in so much trouble for this. This is something not worth putting my life at risk for. Umalis na po ako kay Romy. Sabi niya, huwag ka nang humarap diyan, background ka na lang. Noong Pebrero po nakita ko na lang na trinasfer na iyong project from CICT to DOTC.

I told Rom…”My goodness, you have put me in so much trouble for this. This is not something worth putting my life at risk for.” I left Romy at that point. He said “Don’t face them, just stay in the background.” Then I saw when February came around I saw that the project had already been transferred from CICT to DOTC.

So there you have it. That’s what our government has been up to. This begs, however, a question of great irony regarding Filipino society.

American society is often seen as very liberal, while Filipino society is often seen as very conservative. Why is it then that when Monicagate broke out, it became a really big issue, while in the Philippines people are willing to vote for people of questionable morality? It seems totally off-topic, yes, but why is it that we’re okay if our celebrities father illegitimate children and our government officials party instead of doing their jobs? Why is it that our morality seems to be so selective? We complain when our government is corrupt, but that’s it. We just complain. Very few people really do something about it. Why are we like this?

Is it because we’re used to having corrupt people rule over us? Is it because we’re cowards? Is it because we don’t know right and wrong ourselves despite our purported (or perhaps, selective) conservatism? What is the quality of morality in this country?

Mr. Lozada, I salute you. We’re all cowards, but you’ve overcome that.

Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness,

Your Black Lion

~ by J. R. R. Flores on February 9, 2008.

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