De Venecia ‘clears’ Arroyo in NBN deal-A A +A
Monday, March 17, 2014
WHISTLEBLOWER Jose "Joey" de Venecia III "practically cleared" on Monday Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of any involvement in the National Broadband Network (NBN) scandal during her term as President.
Taking the witness stand before the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division on Monday, de Venecia told the defense lawyers during his cross-examination that the former leader "did not have any involvement or did not receive any so-called kickback from the deal."
De Venecia, the eldest son and namesake of former House Speaker Jose De Venecia Jr., said that he felt it was "unacceptable" for people who are involved in the deal to be name dropping Arroyo since he believed she did not have participation in the transaction.
Arroyo, her husband Jose Miguel, together with former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Benjamin Abalos, and the late former Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza are accused of graft charges for their alleged involvement in the anomalous $329-million NBN project with China's ZTE Corp. in 2007.
Answering a series of questions from Arroyo's lawyer Laurence Arroyo, De Venecia responded "yes sir" to queries on whether or not he believed the country’s former chief executive was not involved in the controversy and that "she was just dragged in to the issue despite her lack of knowledge of the details surrounding it."
Arroyo's lawyer also pointed out that de Venecia did not mention the former First Gentleman in his first and only sworn affidavit and only did in the Senate investigations into the NBN scandal.
De Venecia also admitted that his firm, Amsterdam Holdings Inc. (AHI), which is the competitor of ZTE to the broadband project, stood to earn at least P400-million a year if awarded the NBN project.
The ZTE deal was eventually scrapped by the Arroyo Administration after corruption allegations, as claimed by de Venecia and other whistleblowers like Rodolfo "Jun" Lozada Jr. even though another prosecution witness, National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Assistant Director General Ruben Reynoso Jr., testified that Neda found the NBN-ZTE project to be beneficial to the government based on both its technical and economic merits. (Sunnex)