Press Release
October 8, 2007


Opposition Senator Chiz Escudero today wanted to know if President Arroyo's directive to protect and pursue the cyber-education project is a barter of the president with the Chinese government when she explained before them the quashing of the broadband deal.

Escudero questioned the motive behind the order to protect and push through with the cyber-education project which is also receiving the same flak as that of the scrapped ZTE broadband deal, saying that the cyber-ed project is more controversial than the ZTE deal.

"If the ZTE deal which costs 15 billion pesos was scrapped how much more the cyber-ed project which costs more than 25 billion pesos? If the ZTE went through questionable processes it follows that the cyber-ed went through the same dubious routes. Nobody knows how this contract was awarded."

The Department of Education has already a forward obligation authority for the cyber-ed project, however, Escudero pointed out that the DepEd has also already identified an implementing entity which is the Xing Hua University.

"We need to know how Xing Hua was chosen. Does ZTE also have a hand in this? Did it go through the legal processes required by our laws? I thought the president is reviewing all contracts under the Official Development Assistance (ODA), how come cyber-ed is suddenly being rammed down our throats? Is this part of the agreement when PGMA decided to cancel the NBN deal?"

Escudero said if the broadband deal went under fire, palace can also expect the same with the cyber-ed project since it is included in the memorandum of understanding signed by Trade Secretary Peter Favila between the government and ZTE.

"As I have said, Sec. Favila practically sold the country with that MOU, with a provision of secrecy on the contents of the agreement. Why that secret? There is a big disparity on how much we will borrow for cyber-ed which is 26 billion and with how much we will pay for it which is 40 billion."

With a project this expensive, Escudero said three things must first be accomplished: one, it has to be evaluated and scrutinized if the project is really needed; two, is the project overpriced; and three did it go through the processes prescribed by our existing laws.

Escudero said these three steps should also apply to all ODA contracts. He said he has already asked the Department of Budget and Management to submit all contracts under ODA for the Senate to be able to sit down and decide on the proper steps to be undertaken to ensure that these contracts will undergo public bidding.

"We want to ensure transparency for all contracts undertaken by the government because the public has the right to know. We are stakeholders in these projects, having to give our share in paying for these projects."

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