Government says it’s ready to protect Lozada

By Christine Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:50:00 05/25/2008

MANILA, Philippines—The government is more than willing to be the protector of key Senate witness Rodolfo Lozada Jr. after the Senate cut the number of his security detail on May 1.

Presidential Management Staff Secretary Cerge Remonde said on Saturday it was actually to the “best interest’’ of the government to ensure Lozada’s safety.

Interviewed over government radio dzRB, Remonde said Malacañang and the Philippine National Police would “always be ready to provide security to Lozada and any Filipino for that matter needing their help.’’

“We are always concerned over the security of Mr. Lozada because if anything will happen to Mr. Lozada, the tendency is that it will always be blamed on the government,’’ Remonde said.

He reiterated his earlier warning that it was possible “some of the people who used him might find him (Lozada) more useful dead than alive.’’

“So it is in the best interest of the government to also ensure his security,’’ he said.

The Senate has cut the number of those assigned to protect Lozada to four security men and two drivers, according to Sister Estrella Castolone of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, who has given him refuge after Lozada charged in a Senate hearing in February that irregularities attended the now scrapped $329-million government telecommunications deal with Chinese firm ZTE Corp.

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile had sought the removal of Lozada’s security detail after learning of the mounting expenses paid by the Senate to protect the witness.

To date, the Senate has spent nearly P2 million for security and food arrangements for both Lozada and another key witness in the NBN-ZTE deal, Dante Madriaga.

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