Press Release
September 13, 2007


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said there is no legal conflict between the Senate's inquiry into the national broadband network project and the ongoing Supreme Court adjudication of the petitions seeking to rescind the $329 million NBN deal between the government and the China's ZTE Corporation.

Pimentel opposed the stand of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile that the Senate has no business investigating the NBN deal on the ground that there is no binding contract yet to be funded by a loan from a Chinese government bank.

He maintained that there is already a contract awarded to the ZTE Corp. although administration officials insist there is no consummated contract yet in the absence of an accompanying loan agreement.

The senator was referring to the supply agreement signed between Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza, and ZTE vice president Yu Yong in Boao, Hainan, China in the presence of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

"Of course, there was a contract duly signed. Otherwise, what was President Arroyo posing for as a witness during the signing rites?"

Pimentel also disagreed with Enrile's view that it would be more prudent for the Senate to wait for the Supreme Court to decide on the petitions, filed among others by Iloilo Vice Governor Rolex Suplico and Amsterdam Holdings Inc., a losing bidder, before the Upper Chamber proceeds with its probe.

He said he saw no reason why the Senate should delay its probe until after the high tribunal has resolved the case, since the Senate has an entirely different purpose for its inquiry.

"There is no reason for us to suspend the investigation for the simple reason that petitions lodged with the Supreme Court, such as the one against the broadband deal, usually deal with the legal requisite while legislative investigations have broader objectives - not only legal but also lawmaking ones," he said.

Besides, Pimentel said there have been several instances where pending investigations in the SC have not prevented the Senate from acting on the issues concerned like the Ninoy Aquino International Airport-Terminal 3 contract.

The Blue Ribbon Committee and the Committee on Trade and Commerce are scheduled to start the inquiry into the broadband deal next week based among others on the Resolution 127 filed by Pimentel.

In the resolution, Pimentel said the investigation seeks to shed light on the following: 1. the alleged overpricing of the project; 2. why no public bidding was conducted before awarding the project; 3. why the government dropped the original plan to implement the broadband project through the build-operate-transfer scheme to spare the government of additional debts and expenses; and 4. the alleged role of Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos in lobbying for the awarding of the project to ZTE.

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