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Palace: Time for Senate to close NBN probe

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:39:00 09/05/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate should close its investigation on the botched national broadband network agreement after the Supreme Court upheld former socioeconomic planning secretary Romulo Neri’s right to invoke executive privilege, Malacañang said Friday.

By invoking executive privilege, Neri refused to answer questions on what President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo instructed him to do after he told her of an alleged attempt to bribe him to approve the $329-million
contract between the government and China’s ZTE Corp.

“It is time for the Senate to close its investigation. They have gathered enough evidence. Everything has been said,” Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Sergio Apostol said in a phone interview.

Taking a swipe at senators eyeing higher positions in the 2010 elections, Apostol said: “But if the motive is in aid of the 2010 presidential election, there lies the problem. Maybe their intention is media hype.”

“The Supreme Court has spoken. We urge them [Senate] to draft legislation already, but if they cannot do that, they’re just wasting the people’s money,” Apostol said.

At the same time, Apostol maintained that the President was “not hiding anything” and that executive privilege was provided for under the Constitution.

Apostol also urged the whistleblower in this case, ex-government consultant Rodolfo Lozada to “respect” the high court’s ruling, saying it was “time to move forward.”

Neri had claimed that ex-Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Benjamin Abalos tried to bribe him with P200 million to approve the ZTE project when he was NEDA chief. He said he refused the bribe and had told the President about it.

Neri was reassigned as Commission on Higher Education (Ched) chairman before the ZTE scandal broke last January. He is currently the president of the Social Security System (SSS).

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Written by joelguinto

FriUTC2008-09-05T06:46:23+00:00UTC09bUTCFri, 05 Sep 2008 06:46:23 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am09

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