Press Release
September 16, 2007


Senator Mar Roxas said the numerous doubts raised on the government's broadband deal with a Chinese firm were grounds enough to scrap the agreement altogether.

"Why honor a contract that has been overwhelmingly rejected by those meant to benefit from it, by those paying for it - the people?" Roxas said on the lost government contract with Chinese firm ZTE Corp.

Roxas said the government should leave its communications facilities and services in the hands of the private sector instead of engaging a foreign company to design, engineer, and maintain its communications backbone. "Di ba lagi nating ipinagmamalaki ang husay at talino ng mga Pilipino pagdating sa information and communications technology o ICT? Kung ganun, bakit ipapaubaya pa natin sa isang dayuhang kompanya ang pagtatag ng sariling broadband?"

"Let me make this clear - all this controversy surrounding the broadband contract should not reflect on or in any way diminish our friendship with China and its people. Unfortunately, our government acted with haste and great disregard for the principles of transparency and accountability when it entered this contract. Now why salvage a supply contract that our people do not want nor even need?" Roxas said.

The senator also noted that a quick scan of Internet articles worldwide* shows how other countries have recently been the targets of cyber attacks. Just last week, a German report had surfaced suggesting the participation of ZTE in a hacking operation on German government computers. Roxas said this is another argument in favor of just leaving the government's communications needs in Filipino hands.

"I wish I could ask the executive branch whether they received and are looking into these reports but it seems none of them would be showing up on Tuesday," Roxas said, adding that he will instead pose his questions about such reports to representatives of ZTE.

The senator said that it is important that ZTE enlightens the Senate about security features in the broadband design, if such a design is indeed available.

"Kailan lang ba nating nabayaran ang ating pagkakautang dahil sa Bataan Nuclear Power Plant? Baka naman ganyan din ang mangyayari sa China loan. Kahit lipas na ang teknolohiya ng broadband pero nagbabayad pa rin tayo ng utang dahil sa kontratang ito," he added, noting the quick changes in information and communications technology.

The senator called on the government to junk the ZTE broadband project and maintain a sharper focus on health, education, and infrastructure projects. "Let's invest in our people rather than take out a foreign loan for an overpriced project that only a foreign company will be profiting from."

The Senate committee on trade & commerce, which Roxas chairs, will hold an inquiry next Tuesday on the circumstances surrounding the ZTE deal, together with the Senate blue ribbon committee. Among those invited are the Department of Transportation and Communication, Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos, Commission on Higher Education acting Chairman Romulo Neri, Jose De Venecia III and ZTE Vice-President Yu Yong.

"There are implications to our national security in having a National Broadband Network put up by a foreign firm. This is aside from the irregularities in fashioning the contract, and the impracticality of a $330-million project that can be achieved for much less as a showcase of Filipino skills and talent," he said.

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