Press Release
February 7, 2008

Senate to look into human rights violations in Lozada's
airport disappearance

Senate President Manny Villar today said aside from finding the pieces that will complete the puzzle of the $329 million ZTE-National Broadband deal, the Senate inquiry will also zero in on establishing the acts committed that may have violated the rights of main witness Rodolfo Lozada when he was taken by a group of men upon arrival in Manila last Tuesday.

Villar made this statement after he personally talked with Lozada, hours after the Senate has taken custody of the former President and CEO of the government-run Philippine Forestry Corp.

"Mr. Lozada told me that indeed, he did not make any request for protection from the police. He did not expect that he will be picked up from the airport and for a period of time, he feared for his safety," Villar said.

Villar added he believes Lozada's family did not make a similar request after he talked with his wife, Violeta, apprehensive about his husband's safety.

Villar said his conversation with Lozada this morning focused on the events at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal I, when a group of men took him from the tube and drove him around. "Sa akin mahalagang mahalaga yung sa airport dahil talagang hindi ako makapaniwala na nangyayari mismo sa Metro Manila, sa mismong NAIA, yung mga ganyang bagay na ang isang tao hindi niya inaasahan na siya'y pi-pick-apin," Villar said. The Nacionalista Party president said the disappearance of a passenger in the airport leaves a chilling effect and doesn't augur well in a democratic country like the Philippines.

"Airport events, such as these invoke painful memories, including what happened many years ago, when we were under the martial rule," Villar said, referring to the death of Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino in 1983.

Villar noted that during Lozada's press conference, he admitted signing documents, including security papers, in the presence of those who took him.

The Senate President also made the assurance that everything will be exhausted to ensure Lozada's safety while in Senate custody.

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