I’m leaving on a jet plane… Not!

Update 8:34 pm (heard on the road around 7 pm) Arroyo changes mind, ‘advises’ Neri to attend NBN hearing. The end of a long day of official flip-flopping!

Update 6:28 pm: Senate to subpoena Neri to attend NBN probe next week . I think the Senate’s let him slip through their fingers on this one.

Update 5:29 pm: guess who just filed a new impeachment rap?

Ta-da! Oliver Lozano.


Over the weekend a source described the situation between the President and the Speaker like this. It’s like Defcon 3, the source said. The missiles are fueled and primed, the launch codes have been brought out and authorized, but neither side has pressed the launch button. The papers report that an initial effort to topple the Speaker failed.

Wednesday’s Senate hearing showed every sign of being the launch-button-pressing event.

In his blog, Ricky Carandang reported on the hastily-called press conference last Saturday, where two cabinet secretaries announced that the ZTE and the CyberEd deals had been suspended. And why a sudden reversal of the official position was called for:

Some inquiring minds think that the suspension was actually prompted by Arroyo watching Romulo Neri on TV last night vowing to tell all he knows about the NBN deal. The argument is that now that the deal has been suspended, we can all “move on”and there’s no need for Neri to appear before the senate anymore. I can already imagine the chorus of the “let’s move on” crowd filling the columns of newspapers and blogs and airwaves of TV and radio stations. I anticipate Joker Arroyo saying on Wednesday that since the project has been suspended, there is no need to investigate the matter further and therefore we can let sleeping dogs lie. It’s a win-win solution. The opposition can claim victory by blocking another DOTC white elephant, no one goes after Abalos and Mike Arroyo anymore and Joe De Venecia remains Speaker…for now. Of course there are some loose ends. Joey De Venecia is hung out to dry, and if his allgations are true, someone forfeits their $200 commission, and Abalos will have to find some way to return the “monies”already advanced by ZTE, or the generals will break his kneecaps.

Carandang’s opinion, in a comment in his own blog, makes for a compelling analysis:

Personally, I don’t think this will lead to Gloria’s premature removal from office. Aside from having no hope that Congress will ever impeach her, I think too many of the elite cliques would oppose it at this late hour. With three years to go before she (presumably) steps down, her removal would intoduce a new element of uncertainty’a Noli de Castro presidency. By 2010, having tasted power for three years, Noli may want more and may resort to the same machinations to hold onto power as his predecessor. That in turn could usher in another prolonged period of political intramurals among the elites. Add to that the fact that Noli, like Erap,is considered by the establsihment to be an unacceptable outsider.

What I see happening at this point is that all the accumulated evidence of wrongdoing will be used against Gloria and her accomplices after she is made to stepdown in 2010 and face a plunder/economic sabotage/multiple murder/crimes against humanity/ case before the Judiciary.

But the clumsy, heavy-handed actions of the Palace over the weekend has only intensified demands for the hearing (while BusinessWorld reports the President and her husband’s ratings have dipped). See last Sunday’s Inquirer editorial and today’s Inquirer editorial. Interest in what former NEDA chief Romulo Neri has to say, is particularly keen. In his column, today, Jarius Bondoc says Neri could possibly not only implicate the President herself (see the Newsbreak article from September 10, PCIJ’s primer on ZTE, as well as GmaNews.tv’s scoop: Cabinet split on cost, benefits of NBN, overlap with CyberEd), but a prominent businessman:

Romy then rattled off many things he knew about the events leading to the scheduled signing of Apr. 21. I later learned that he had told at least three of our common friends the same things.

Some of the items have since been reported in broadcast and print. There was a supposed invitation from COMELEC chief Benjamin Abalos to golf at the Wack Wack Country Club, during which Romy was offered P200 million to support ZTE. As the story goes, Romy turned down and told President Arroyo about the indecent proposal. Whereupon, she instructed him to not accept the bribe but ensure the NEDA approvals just the same. Romy has neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

Only God and Romy know if under oath he would confirm or deny the other items. I pray that he expound on them. He had told me on that morning of Apr. 20 and several other times that not only a COMELEC official but an influential businessman too was inordinately lobbying for ZTE Corp. The businessman allegedly was responsible for the sudden rise of the ZTE tag price to $330 million days before the signing, when its original offer in Dec. to Feb. was $262 million. What was the $68-million difference for, I asked in subsequent talks. Romy said the businessman was assigned to raise campaign funds for an administration party during the last election.

I would understand if Romy balks in identifying the businessman. In a previous cocktail party at the residence of Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., he said, that man had cornered and threatened him for opposing a fishy pier project. That man reportedly also worked on Romy’s consequent transfer from NEDA to the Commission on Higher Education.

Romy in our talks implicated most of the persons Joey de Venecia has exposed under oath as thieving from the broadband purchase. But I get the impression that Romy knows much more than the heroic whistleblower who initially was bidding for the telecom project.

About ZTE executives, Romy also said he has never seen any group as aggressive as them in pushing for a contract. They were waiting outside the NEDA conference room while the Cabinet was deliberating about them.

More importantly, Romy said a very powerful official arm-twisted him to turn the broadband project from a safe build-operate-transfer plan to a risky outright supply purchase. It was for that reason, he told me on Apr. 20, that he almost resigned from the Cabinet the day before.

And yet, in the face of increased public interest, it seemed that the President’s only option would be to invoke EO 464 and forbid executive officials from appearing.

But that would solidify negative public perceptions of the President. But there seemed no other option: better people coming to sinister conclusions rather than solid testimony made under oath.

Then, this morning, a pretty breathtaking example of Marcosian jujitsu.

The President leaves for New York tomorrow, and it’s being widely discussed that among her entourage will be Romulo Neri. (update, 1:235 pmPresident asks Neri to take US trip with her–reports. There you go!

(update 2:10 pmNeri: DFA ‘advised’ me to go with President:

Romulo Neri, ex-economic planning secretary, and a key resource person in the national broadband network contract between the government and the ZTE Corp. of China, has disclosed that he was “advised”to accompany President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the United States this week.

Neri, who was at the House of Representatives for a budget hearing Monday, issued the statement in response to a question by Bayan Muna Congressman Teodoro CasiÑo on whether he would go with the President in her US trip.

“It’s a possibility,”said Neri and said that he had been “advised” by the Department of Foreign Affairs to go to the US where the President is expected to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

But before the budget hearing, Neri told INQUIRER.net that he would still have to think about whether to accept the invitation as he has agreed to attend the Senate investigation on the NBN project this Wednesday.

(update 3:40 pm):

“I have been advised by the DFA that I may be needed to help in the Millenium Development Challenge,”said Neri Monday, responding to Cagayan Representative Rufus Rodriguez’s question about his impending US trip.

“The President is my superior…I guess, if instructed to go and it’s a legal order, I may have to follow it,”said Neri who attended the budget hearing at the House of Representatives.

But at the same time, Neri said he would “come back in time.” “As I’ve said I’ve promised to attend [the Senate investigation].”

The question then becomes whether Neri is a free agent or not, at this point: if he’s a captive, he will bundled onto the presidential plane. If he is partially free, he can wriggle out of the trip and stay for the Senate hearing: a gambit which may or may not succeed, not least, because it depends on the risks Neri is willing to take.

Or, if it’s just a propaganda effort to deflate the ballooning effort to cheer Neri on.

My column today, Heroic leadership, suggests why Neri should be prepared to testify even at the risk of disobeying the President (I also quoted from this article by Matthew Mehan on St. Thomas More). There are even those, like blogger Uniffors, who are calling on Neri to live up to his Ateneo principles.

A few days ago, Solita Monsod said, in her column, that she believed Joey de Venecia (I Set No Corner agrees). She also used a term that I found interesting: a scorched-earth campaign is under way, she said, against critics of the NBN deal. But I‘d pointed out scorched-earth governance has been the style of the Palace for some years now. Just how scorched-earth? Read Tony Abaya describe how his writing a column skeptical of the ZTE deal triggered a negative in Enrique Razon’s paper -the same paper Abaya writes for:

So, between 12:23 pm when I emailed the article to Manila Standard Today, and 1:30 pm, or a little over an hour later, someone in Malacanang had concocted this story about how Joey de Venecia ‘ whom I had never met in my entire life – had been talking to me to destroy the credibility of the ZTE Corp.

This is all the more surprising since this article ‘A-B-Z-T-E-F-G ‘ did not see print until the next day, Sept. 20. And it was not sent electronically to my distribution list until 8:51 pm of Sept. 19.

So the only copy of that article that the Malacanang source could have possibly seen was the copy that was sent by email to Manila Standard Today. Either someone in the newspaper office forwarded it to Malacanang, which I doubt, or “intelligence agents”wire-tapped the cable lines of my computer, which is more likely.

(I first became aware of my computer being wire-tapped in July 2005, but that’s another story for another day.)

In the blogosphere, Yugatech’s entry made news: Filipino bloggers frustrated with NBN Senate investigation (would they agree or disagree with Patricia Evangelista, too?). In Newsstand, John Nery says he wasn’t satisfied with the way the senators conducted their questioning. A Nagueno in the Blogosphere calls the deal a “Frankenstein project.” Slap Happy simply isn’t surprised.

New Philippine Revolution has an interesting take on things, similar thoughts expressed in Ya Basta de Disparates. I wonder though, if, as the blogger (NPR) asserts, Sec. Leandro Mendoza is “clean.” There was a point during the last Senate hearing, when senators seemed like they were trying to pin him down on the question of whether an executive agreement existed or not. Mendoza said, no executive agreement existed. The Q&A hinged on what Mendoza tried to pass off as ungrammatical English on the part of the lawyer who wrote the contract with ZTE.:

7:26 Legarda: Is there an executive agreement or not?

M: Not yet. It’s still in process.

L: Even if the supply contract says there was an executive agreement signed?

M: This was explained by the one who wrote the contract, this may be explained by maybe there was some error…Uh, well, if the other party thinks it’s OK…

L: There is an admission by the executive that there was an error in which the document was drafted and signed?

M: Well, no, the executive agreement is under process…

(continued debate on “is”and “was”and differences in terms of English usage; Mendoza insists lawyer said intent of document was clear to both parties; Mendoza says there are many angles; government thinks, though, best angle to pursue is the Supreme Court, they will follow the rule of law…

I wonder though: what if Mendoza perjured himself? Which is the easier, and thus, more likely explanation? Poor English skills or, that the document was referring, indeed, to an existing executive agreement?

In his blog, Karl Garcia says, take a second look at Abaya vs. Ebdane. See Manila Bay Watch and big mango, too.


Technorati Tags: BlogginginternetjournalismlawmediaphilippinespoliticspresidentSenate

Manuel L. Quezon III.

110 thoughts on “I’m leaving on a jet plane… Not!

  1. To ROMY NERI:

    “Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly.”St Ignatius of Loyola

    ROMY:Trust GOD.Don’t succumb to the wiles of the Devil and his goons(The PIDALs , Ermita Esperon,Abalos,Apostol ).

    With GOD with you ,who can be against you?

  2. Another impulse re-action from PGMA. Most of the times her impulses work on her favor, but just one tiny weeny miscalculation and that’s all that’s needed. Meantime more drama on the sidelines, while Mr Chairman will have to find some ways to reimburse his Chinese benefactors, that is if he has not divided his loot to his “heirs” already to cover the tracks.. Evidence? Someone here would ask, not now, wait until the proper time and place and there will be plenty of evidence, especially when the other feet are wearing that shoes that dancing in Malacanang, every time there is a BiG Deal. Like they said in the country’s politics, our turn will come and so is yours.

  3. mb,

    so romulo neri is now being jesuitic, huh? ask him the right questions?

    bring on all ateneo philo teachers for another round of oral examination. i think he misses the exercise a lot.

  4. am i the only one worried (aside from the nerys themselves) about the safety of sec. nery’s family? what if he wants to tell the whole truth (not just JDV3’s inconvinient truth) but he’s worried about his family?

  5. Neri Jr. will decide based on his rational material self interest and that of his family.

    Right now he can write his own ticket to riches as this kind of window of opportunity to leverage his loyalty to himself and to his Queen versus this abstract of loyalty to some kind of moral underpinnings is rare. He is a financial analyst at heart. No morality involved. It simply could be about material valuations. His favorite term – net asset valuations.

    MLQ3 attempt to morally sandbag Neri and Jarius Bondoc’s clear attempt to lay down the crux of Neri’s alleged testimony is clearly meant to give Neri a reminder of the choice he has to make. I do not believe he sees it that way. He is a number cruncher at heart.

    The number of technocrats that stood by during the Marcos years while the clans in power raided the treasury is a prime example of this type of blind loyalties.

    They set themselves as above all this trivialities. He might rationalize that the SC will decide on the deal anyway and take the company line.

  6. hvrds,

    give the man some breathing room. if he is that kind of man as you think he is, then he could have easily taken the bribe at a time when joey de venecia’s singing at the senate was still inconceivable. if you happen to be even at the fringes of the frontlines in the anti-corruption fight in this country, then you would most certainly have been subjected to a police/military background check and you most probably would have known about it. That gives you pause as any person with a family of her own would.
    For Mr. Neri, with all the information that has come out, it would be hard to make a good story that would not implicate some high and mighty. We pray that you find the courage to speak and protection for you and your family.

  7. To ROMY NERI:

    “If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you, and that He certainly intends to make you a saint. And if you wish to become a great saint, entreat Him yourself to give you much opportunity for suffering; for there is no wood better to kindle the fire of holy love than the wood of the cross, which Christ used for His own great sacrifice of boundless charity.”St.Ignatius of Loyola

  8. 112.


    Typical Gloria Pidal tactics(in this precise sequence):

    1)”Let’s Move On”
    2)”Back Off”
    3)”Flu now,Fly later”

    1)”Let’s Move On”
    2)””Back Off”
    3)”Flu Now,Fly Later”

    1)”Let’s Move On”
    2)””Back Off”
    3)”Flu Now,Fly Later”

  9. By 2010, having tasted power for three years, Noli may want more and may resort to the same machinations to hold onto power as his predecessor. That in turn could usher in another prolonged period of political intramurals among the elites. Add to that the fact that Noli, like Erap,is considered by the establsihment to be an unacceptable outsider.

    It would be very difficult for Noli De Castro to harbor the ‘same machinations to hold onto power as his predecessor’ precisely because he is an outsider. One only has to look at Erap to see how an outsider fares in the oligarchy. Erap isnt even an outsider outsider. Like Noli, he just wasnt up to the standards in intellect and ‘propriety’ and breeding as the elites.

  10. It was proven time and again that family interests personal interests among the Philippines’ Elites and Politicians are above everything. Shame and disgrace are no longer regarded as counterbalancing deterrents to wrongful deeds to further one’s personal and most importantly his or her clans, as we had seen in the past. Take a look at the Marcosses, are they shamed or disgraced by all the allegations of the wrongful sources of their enormous wealth? or Even Chavit Singson, may not have been convicted, much less charged of any corruptions related crimes, but would these wealth and affluent lifestyle been earned honestly? in our dreams, maybe, but in a country where evidence of wrongdoings can easily be buried deep with piles of more money, you need the group of men history has known as the “Untouchables” with Elliot Ness as the lead man and Neri is not Elliott Ness and not a single one of them, not even our Ping Lacson who is looking beyong 2010 for his turn dancing in Malacanang and the rest of them pretenders in the Senate and the House. Such quality is absent in our society, they are all “touchable”….

  11. Would Neri miss out on the GDP triumphalism that HRHGMA will most likely trumpet in one of the premier sites of global financial capitalism. The probability of him reveling in that exercise is too good an opportunity to miss out on. Neri is part of that spin department.

    The mavens of financial capitalism do not like whistle-blowers. Discretion and morality do not make for a good mix.

    It would be like the head of the Council of Economic Advisers in the U.S. exposing corrupt practices within the executive department with a foreign government. It would send shock waves in any normal country.

    Here it becomes simply another chapter in the news of the week. Soon to pass.

  12. hvrds, well, i would really hate to read an “i told you so” from you or justice league waiting on this one. so i hope both of you are wrong.

  13. i hope that the authorities speed up their investigations lest the public grew tired with the issue and the culprits will freely walk away waiting for another government project to milk.

  14. Ellen Tordesillas also says “A friend’s Palace source said: GMA told Neri come with me to New York. It’s the only way I can prortect you from Abalos and Mendoza.”

    Why would Neri need protecting from Abalos and Mendoza? If Neri is telling the truth, it’s Abalos and Mendoza who will need protecting, unless of course, Gloria has inkling that protecting Neri from abalos and Mendoza means that those two have intentions of causing Neri some bodily harm in which case, she should denounce Abalos and Mendoza and have them perhaps arrested to prevent the commission of a crime.

    Don’t understand Gloria’s logic at all.

  15. hvrds: The mavens of financial capitalism do not like whistle-blowers. Discretion and morality do not make for a good mix.

    Ubi es, Perfecto Yasay? Quo vadis, Romulo Neri?

  16. mlq3,

    A hijacker,leaving on a jet plane

    In the 2001 takeover, Gloria had hijacked the gov’t, unless the gov’t is rescued Gloria stays in power beyond 2010.

  17. no doubt that gloria knows every detail of this NBN project and the ZTE deal considering how FUSSY (a subject of manolo’s previous thread) she’s been with government projects even with minor ones.

    but the only best thing that can be achieved from this whole exercise of the senate is the cancellation of this anomalous ZTE deal and another embarrassment to the current administration. as to the culpability and punishment of those people involved or the removal of gloria, i don’t think it’s going to happen even if neri testifies and will disclose everything he knows. by this time, gloria has mastered the art (ala houdini) of extricating herself out of big troubles whenever she faces them. but what i expect will happen to neri next if he decides to go against his boss is the same as what happened to dinky soliman and other members of the hyatt 10 or other critics of gloria. malacanang dirty tricks department will take over. neri will be demonized. behind the scene moves to discredit him will follow. that’s how the machineries of gloria works. then add to that the voice of the so called “move on crowd”. so predictable.

    i still believe the only realistic chance gloria can be prosecuted and made to account for all her crimes is beyond 2010 when her term ends and the military will cease to support her.

  18. a bit off topic, but could this be quid pro quo for the pardon? any other reason Jinggoy would introduce this?

    14th Congress
    Senate Bill No. 1556

    Filed on September 11, 2007 by Ejercito-Estrada, Jinggoy P.
    Overview | Committee Referral | Leg. History | All Information
    Download PDF icon

    * SBN-1556 (as filed)
    9/19/2007 112.8KB

    Long title




    Legislative status

    Pending in the Committee (9/19/2007)

  19. manolo,

    what’s your take with this CybeEd project? you think this is more important than the need for more teachers, classrooms and textbooks? jesli lapus is passionately pushing for this project as the answer to our ailing educational system. how will this help in classroom overcrowdedness as what lapus is saying?

  20. grd,

    if i may,

    I was involved in several gov’t IT projects. Min 30% of fund is lost due irregularities in the purchase stage. But setting that aside, the mortality rate of projects already implemented is about 25% for the first 3 yrs, 50% in 5 yrs. I ahve even encountered deliveries

  21. KAWAWA naman si Bunye!

    1)Early today:”At this point, I can say that that’s kuryente (erroneous report),” Bunye said, in referring to reports that Neri was tagging along with the President’s party.

    2)Early this evening:Bunye says Neri included in Arroyo trip to New York.

    3)breaking news:Bunye says that Arroyo orders Neri to stay behind, attend ZTE probe.

  22. cont’d,

    deliveries were left to rot in storage, like the COMELEC’s Mega pacific hardware rotting in warehouse. There were/are more of these unexposed ex: The EPZA nation-wide network, even COA got a bulk purchase of design level defective proprietary PC’s,

    The more Jesli Lapus talks the more I’m convinced he doesn’t fully understand what he’s talking about. He’s mouthing the same justifications I’ve been hearing from trapos and technocrats I’ve dealt with the past 20 yrs.

    Audit gov’t IT purchases past ten yrs. first before we waste more money on this scamy projects.

  23. koolit,

    Re “The more Jesli Lapus talks the more I’m convinced he doesn’t fully understand what he’s talking about. ” But aha, he will tell you he’s got a triple A thinggy from AIM!

  24. abalos to mendoza: let’s tee OFF.
    gma to neri: get OFF neda and go to ched!
    fg to jdv3: back OFF!

    gma to neri, again: get OFF the plane!

    …how i wish they’d all f_ck OFF!

  25. mbw,

    Presicely, like Georgetown grad GMA, this AIM guy has the technocratic skills to accomplish the wrong things very very efficiently. The GMA administration is interesting case study of the blind leading the blind technocracy.

    Why don’t we solicit opinions of other AIM grads on Jesli’s CyberEd project. I doubt if Jesli would be getting an A thingy for his CyberEd thingy.

  26. “What I see happening at this point is that all the accumulated evidence of wrongdoing will be used against Gloria and her accomplices after she is made to stepdown in 2010 and face a plunder/economic sabotage/multiple murder/crimes against humanity/ case before the Judiciary.”


    I wonder who is doing the safe keeping of all the evidence?

    Will a promise to go after Gloria after 2010 become a winning formula for 2010 presidential election?

    Should Neri speak up now or after 2010?

    But will Gloria step down after 2010?

  27. mlq3,

    Re Ricky Carandang’s comment:

    “With three years to go before she (presumably) steps down, her removal would intoduce a new element of uncertainty–a Noli de Castro presidency. By 2010, having tasted power for three years, Noli may want more and may resort to the same machinations to hold onto power as his predecessor”

    Between the CERTAINTY of accelerating pillage and plunder during the three remaining years of GMA and the UNCERTAINTIES of a Noli de Castro presidency, shouldn’t we take a RISK in the latter?

    Between a forced and an un-forced GMA resignation, shouldn’t we prefer the former, to teach GMA a lesson Noli should keep in mind?

  28. Better ,

    Between a forced and an un-forced GMA (resignation) departure from office, shouldn’t we prefer the former, to teach GMA a lesson Noli should keep in mind?

  29. rego,

    Accumulated evidences against Gloria are accumulated reasons why GMA will not step down without securing a safe exit. She could stay beyond 2010 if the people are lethargic enough to let her.

  30. carandang’s punditry betrays classic ignorance of the law. he would not know admissible evidence when he sees one. he should consult with the abs-cbn legal counsel whether anyone, including a president, can be indicted on the basis of innuendos. or else, he should just stick to reading news (with bias slant) for his anti-gma employer. i think he is beginning to believe abs-cbn’s propaganda, among others.

  31. I bet GMA will step down in 2010. Step down from a plane that just landed in Switzerland ready to spend Jose Pidal’s money.

  32. i think you’re right koolit. jesri lapus does not know what he’s talking about. i just can’t connect how this CyberEd can help our problem on classroom ‘overcrowdedness’. maybe by creating virtual classrooms over those decrepit school buildings and under the acasia tree?

  33. Lapus should implement CyberEd on a small scale then implement nationwide after ironing out the kinks. OR just retool the government channel to show only educational programs 24/7.

  34. Oh But the lates news says, Gloria changed her mind and allow Neri to attend senate hearng on wednesday.

    And what is this? Absolute pardon for Erap? Di kaya parang unwise naman ang plano eto. I dont think this will help any efforts to curbecorruptin in the highest leve of government.

  35. kayo naman, of course pgma will want to pardon erap because when she’s out of power and it’s her turn to be hauled to court for plunder, she’ll want absolute pardon too!

  36. grd and supremo

    you make a lot better sense than AIM boy DECs sec Jesli Lapuz who betrays his lack of better sense when he joined Georgetown girl Gloria’s cabinet. This bright boy will squander OUR tax money BIG TIME — 25B !!!

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