NBN witness will testify despite Palace admission–Suplico

ILOILO CITY — Iloilo Vice Governor Rolex Suplico said on Thursday his witness had said what he knew and had little to add about President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s meeting with the ZTE Corp. officials in China in November 2006.

“All major allegations have been admitted. Except for a few details, there is no more to say and prove,” he said.

But Suplico said his witness would still be willing to testify during the Senate investigation on the cancelled national broadband network (NBN) project although they had yet to receive an invitation as of Thursday.

Suplico said he believed that the revelation of his witness would affect the final report of the Senate’s blue ribbon committee, which was investigating the scrapped agreement.

“We don’t expect earthquakes and lightning after the exposé. We are only after the truth,” Suplico said.

He also noted that Malacañang’s admission that the President met with ZTE officials in China showed that the President “once again lied.”

“The President was caught lying. If this happened in another country, the President and all her appointed officials would have already resigned,” Suplico told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a telephone interview.

Suplico said the admission affirmed the revelation of the witness that the President, along with First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, had an unannounced meeting with ZTE officials at the company’s headquarters in Shenzhen, China, five months before the NBN contract was signed.

He said the President “had no business talking with a supplier” five months before the signing of the contract.

Malacañang said that there was nothing wrong with the First Couple’s meeting with ZTE officials in China, saying it was a private and social activity.

“Why the secrecy? It took a year and a half [for Malacañang] to disclose this? This is unacceptable behavior from a chief executive,” Suplico asked.

Suplico who is handling the witness whom he identifies only as “Alex” also denied the allegations of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, a staunch ally of the President, that the witness was lawyer Alex Avisado Jr. “Alex is not Alex Avisado. He’s not JDV [Jose de Venecia] either,” said Suplico.

He said the witness’ identity would be made public if the senators were to summon him to the Senate hearing.

Meanwhile, Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada said Suplico’s disclosure was a “political smokescreen” to put Malacañang in a tight spot and prevent the Office of the President from imposing a suspension against him based brought about by an administrative case.

Mejorada filed a complaint against Suplico for alleged oppression, grave misconduct, and abuse of authority before the Office of the President for allegedly using his position to harass the administrator and take away the appropriations for the salaries and wages of his office.

But Suplico called the case filed by Mejorada a frivolous complaint.

He also urged Mejorada and his group to attend the NBN hearings if they wanted to comment on the case. (PDI)

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