Deadline all the time

breaking news stories, photos, and video

Palace says new witness San Miguel brings ‘no surprise’

leave a comment »

Warns public vs being ‘taken for ride’ by Lozada

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:45:00 03/11/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The new witness in the Senate inquiry into the allegedly graft-ridden national broadband network (NBN) deal spring no “surprise” in his testimony Tuesday, contrary to what Senator Panfilo Lacson said he would, Malacañang said.

At the same time, the Palace cautioned the public against being “taken for a ride” as it laughed off the claim of key NBN inquiry witness Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. that he is the target of an assassination plot.

Businessman Leo San Miguel told Tuesday’s hearing of the Senate inquiry that he had no direct knowledge of the alleged kickbacks China’s ZTE Corp. supposedly gave certain government officials to secure the $329-million contract for the NBN project.

During the previous hearing a week ago, another witness, Dante Madriaga, who introduced himself as a consultant of ZTE, claimed to have been told that San Miguel was one of the so-called “greedy group” that received kickbacks from the telecom firm.

But Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, commenting on San Miguel’s testimony, said: “Every time they come up with a surprise witness, it is not anymore a surprise. That’s why I’m not at all surprised that he is a witness.”

“They always want to establish linkages all the way up to here [in Malacañang]…But as I said, the truth will come out. Let the truth come out,” Ermita said.

Madriaga said he was told the “greedy group” included President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, her husband, Jose Miguel, and former Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr., who other witnesses have said brokered the contract for ZTE.

In a separate interview, deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez lamented how senators are allegedly attacking the government with “allegation by installment.”

Golez warned the senators they could get “burned” if they don’t require their witnesses to back up their claims with evidence.

Meanwhile, Lozada, who linked the First Gentleman and Abalos to the alleged NBN deal kickbacks, claimed a Palace official informed him of the threat to his life.

But Ermita dismissed this, saying: “It seems Mr. Lozada has run out of ammunition. First, the abduction and kidnapping at the airport, now it’s an assassination [plot]. He is making up his own scenario to call attention to himself.”

“How long will it last? We Filipinos are smart enough, we know when we are taken for a ride,” he said.

Lozada surfaced in early February, after he was allegedly kidnapped by government agents at the airport, upon his arrival from Hong Kong to prevent him form testifying at the Senate.

View article as posted on


Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-03-11T08:02:49+00:00UTC03bUTCTue, 11 Mar 2008 08:02:49 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am03

Posted in Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: