Press Release
February 12, 2008

DFA must ask Chinese Gov't to reveal other Pinoy officials who asked for bribe money

Senator Richard Gordon reiterated his call late last night at the Senate NBN investigation hearing to have the Chinese government reveal other bribery instances involving millions of dollars.

Gordon made a motion last night, asking the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to request the Department of Foreign Affairs to issue formal and informal requests for the Chinese government to reveal other instances where in Filipino government officials had asked for or received bribe money in connection with multi-million dollar projects.

"We should be reminded of the real standard that whether one steals one dollar or one hundred thirty million dollars from the government, it is still stealing and we must send a strong signal to the Chinese government that we do not tolerate corruption on whatever scale. We cannot allow the calloused consciences and black greed of some of our government officials to succeed in signing off our people to penury while they gorge themselves in luxury," said Gordon in a later statement after he questioned former Philippine Forest Corporation CEO Jun Lozada on the circumstances that led to his coming to the Senate to testify on the ZTE NBN deal.

"I asked the chairman of the Senate investigating committee yesterday to communicate formally or informally with the Chinese embassy to find out if one of their corporations, a government controlled corporation, has offered or transferred money to Filipino high officials -- including a officials of constitutional bodies like Comelec, " said Gordon.

Gordon added that "In corruption, there is a bribe giver and a bribe taker. There are some testifications in the ZTE hearing that as much as two million dollars had been advanced by China's ZTE Corp to Abalos. The bribe giver is often regarded in usual circumstances as the victim, especially if the bribe taker does not deliver the goods. The Chinese government, who is our country's friend and partner in development, should be able to help us find out the veracity of the incident. This will help their state company to recover money that was spirited away from them and help us bring erring officials to justice."

Earlier, businessman Jose De Venecia III testified before the Senate linking ZTE officials to the 329-million contract, scrapped last year amid allegations of corruption.

De Venecia said officials of China's ZTE Corp., the winner of the bidding for the NBN project, advanced at least $1 million to resigned poll chief Benjamin Abalos.

Senators pointed out that under the law, this constitutes plunder because, at the time the alleged advance was supposed to have been given, the exchange rate would make it worth P50 million.

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