Headlines today: Even as Kickback blow to Arroyo ratings.
Flailing in the Palace: It was miscommunication, not a flip-flop – Palace on Neri (blogger Uniffors points to a news report that the flip-flopping was due to Us Embassy intervention: which only goes to show, if you’re going to play the China card, better make sure your whole hand is strong).
The Palace version? Arroyo: Bribery talk over ZTE deal was ‘uncorroborated’
As JDV tells it, he and his president were on a bus from Hong Kong to Shenzhen when she had a phone conversation with Abalos. Apparently Abalos had flown ahead to China and was waiting for them there so they could all play golf. During the phone conversation, Arroyo asked Abalos why he couldn’t tweak ZTE’s broadband proposal so that there would be no need for the government to borrow money or issue a sovereign guarantee for the project. In the presence of the Speaker, she asked Abalos why he couldn’t get ZTE to submit a proposal similar to the one submitted by Joey De Venecia’s company, Amsterdam Holdings, which had no up front cost for the government.
JDV says he didn’t know how Abalos replied to the President because she was speaking to him on the phone. He said that they only met with Abalos after they arrived in Shenzhen.
What does this tell us?
First, that President Arroyo knew that Abalos was pushing the ZTE proposal. Based on what the president said, she not only knew that Abalos was involved in the ZTE proposal but assumed that he had enough influence over ZTE to get them to materially modify their proposal.
Second, that the president knew that the ZTE proposal did not conform to her own policy and guidelines about how a broadband deal should be done. She knew that, contrary to her stated policy, the ZTE proposal would require the government to borrow the money to fund the project. And yet, she approved the deal later on anyway.
This is not an unsubstantiated claim by some oppositionist trying to oust the president. This is the Speaker of the House talking about something he had direct knowledge of. The fourth highest offical in the country and a loyal ally of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Whether he meant to or not, the Speaker may have just implicated the President in the ZTE Broadband scandal.
As for Neri himself: Neri on NBN probe: I’ll try to answer ‘truthfully’
Got this text message from Atenean friends (I’m not from the Ateneo), who asked me to post it in my blog:
Time to show the world Ateneans are not buzzards in Blue Eagle’s clothing! Attend Senate hearing tomorrow, 9:30 am to boost morale of Romy Neri, HS ’66, to tell the truth. Wear blue or your homecoming uniform.
So in solidarity with the concerned alumni, here’s an inspirational song (click on it to play it): Blue_Eagle_The_King.mp3
See the Action for Economic Reforms statement, too.
So why did I title this entry panicking into the arms of defeat? After gambling on playing it cool last week, the administration has engaged in one clumsy ploy after another, not even including the clumsy tactic of having the President’s husband fly off to parts unknown on the eve of Joey de Venecia’s testimony. The President’s instructions last Saturday seemed to lay the basis for stonewalling on the basis of executive privilege; but rather than play that card, the administration then spent Monday seesawing between confirming or denying that Neri would be made to accompany the President to New York. In the end, the President caved, told Neri to go, and has made it even harder for the executive privilege card to be played. The President’s proven herself easily spooked, with a tendency to be fickle, which can only demoralize her lieutenants.
In Inquirer Current, John Nery points to criticism of fatuous questions, and asks, what questions should the senators ask? The Business Mirror editorial says the questions should include probing into the CyberEd project, too.
In other news, Gov’t places more China deals on hold. Puno: Estrada could get to keep P1B of ill-gotten assets (update: Estrada nixes Arroyo pardon for now–Puno)
In Publius Pundit, the underwhelming response to the “one laptop per child” effort.
Just on a housekeeping note (the need to dot our i’s and cross our t’s) we should cover all bases and with this in mind, let me reiterate the points I raised on June 7, 2007 in A way forward:
1. Creation of a Special Independent Prosecutor’s office to undertake preliminary investigation for possible cases of impeachment.
2. For the House of Representatives to junk the flawed 13th Congress’ rules on impeachment and adopt the more traditional, and fairer ones, of past Congresses. See my August 17, 2006 column, Motive.
Overseas, thrilling news of goings-on in Burma. See Monks and the military:As more monks and laymen join protests in Myanmar, what will the junta do? And the editorial Burma needs the world’s help. Blogger Center Sight says Pakistan Approaches the Boiling Point.