This photo was taken in the vicinity of the Senate flagpole last night as a candle-lighting was held last night, to pray that Jun Lozada would surface and be released safely. The man in the red shirt is one of the brothers of Jun Lozada. Earlier that day, Lozada brother seeks amparo writ from SC. The candle-lighting was in support of that effort. The gentleman beside Lozada’s brother is Black & White Movement Convenor Vicente Romano III. You can read Affidavit A vs Affidavit B: ZTE witness preparing new story, says Ermita for a background on Jun Lozada’s odyssey as a potential witness and the Palace counter-effort to get Lozada to change his testimony.
Who is Jun Lozada? You can begin with an entry last week in Ricky Carandang’s blog, The Lozada Factor, posted when Lozada, due to testify before the Senate, was suddenly sent out of the country by the Palace:
Lozada has first hand knowledge of many of the events that led to the deal being signed. When the senate’s investigation zeroed in on him, he started getting “anonymous” death threats, followed by summons to meet with Palace officials. Earlier this week, he was ordered to cool his heels in Hong Kong so he couldn’t testify. But he can’t stay there forever and no one really knows what he’ll do when he comes back. He may succumb to the pressure, or he may — despite the great personal risk to him and his family– rise to the occasion and tell the truth about what he knows. And that’s giving someone in the Palace sleepless nights.
Additional material on Lozada and why he matters can be found in Newsbreak’s Senate Key Witness to Corroborate Neri.
The sleepless nights, as Carandang puts it, must have intensified when it became known Lozada was coming home. He was supposed to be met at the airport by concerned citizens and the Senate Sergeant-at-arms. Instead, he was abducted, in one of the crudest and most bumbling kidnappings in our political history. First, Gov’t grabbed witness in NBN deal–sources:Lozada met by airport men, whisked off via tarmac. See also, Lozada arrives from HK, but vanishes at airport. An account also in notes of marichu c. lambino.
Bumbling all around. Razon first claimed there was a letter from Lozada asking for security, then claimed the Police got a request from the family: PNP chief insists Lozada, sibling sought PNP protection. Then, today, he claims Lozada then wrote a letter asking for government security on the spot, when he arrived, after the PNP was tipped off by one of Lozada’s sisters. See: Atutubo: Lozada not missing, was picked up by cop then Airport exec says presidential guards fetched Lozada and then MIAA exec says Lozada went out of NAIA with cop, driver and Lozada illegally held by PNP, wife says; Razon denies claim; then, No Lozada in police custody, Senate told then PNP clueless on Lozada but says cops guarding exec.
The brothers and wife went to Court to secure Lozada yet the government kept insisting it had been asked to secure Lozada, which of course ignores the question of why government intervened to spirit him away from the Senate sergeant-at-arms (see Brother disputes PNP, says no Lozada asked for protection Brother disputes PNP, says no Lozada asked for protection). Can you say obstruction of justice? But wait, no, it’s justice if government does it but it isn’t obstruction if it’s uncomplimentary to the government. As it turns out, Lozada now says he was whisked away from the airport by men sent by Sec. Lito Atienza (his boss) and released when he’d signed affidavits contradicting his earlier ones.
The great escape was more of a government blunder worse than a crime (for them). The papers missed out on it today because the story broke at 2 a.m.see the stories: Lozada finally surfaces, links Abalos, Big Mike to ZTE mess. Also Lozada: Abalos insisted on $130-M kickback on NBN deal and, Lozada unmasks FG, Abalos in aborted NBN deal and the Senate takes custody of Lozada.
It’s been a nerve-wracking few days!
Meanwhile, back at the ranch… The post-mortems on Jose de Venecia Jr.’s stint as Speaker of the House ranged from the Inquirer editorial The assassination of De Venecia and The Business Mirror editorial ‘Night of the Long Knives’ to the PCIJ story Chronicle of an ouster foretold (see also How lawmakers voted in vacating Speaker’s seat). Manuel Buencamino’s column Naked runner inspired my column for today, Live from the Bastusang Pambansa.
So what happens now to the ruling coalition? Journal of the Jester-in-Exile has three entries in a row by way of analysis: Let the Numbers Speak, Part I: Anatomy of a Lynching and Let the Numbers Speak, Part 2: Opening Salvos and Let the Numbers Speak, Part 3: Death by Co-Option.
Then Ramos: De Venecia to remain president in Lakas-Kampi merger. An offer the Palace has to refuse? Not really -more of a face-saving merger, but with a last-ditch effort to give FVR some wiggle room, too. The Lakas old guard in the Palace want JDV sacrificed to maintain closeness to the President; Ramos is trying to gain time to either convince JDV to pipe down or to hang himself, so that the party can salvage a little dignity before it turns into a fully-owned subsidiary of Kampi, Inc.