Author Topic: ‘Abalos tried to bribe ZTE rival into backing out’  (Read 607 times)

Offline froilanr

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‘Abalos tried to bribe ZTE rival into backing out’
« on: September 03, 2007, 10:22:42 AM »
‘Abalos tried to bribe ZTE rival into backing out’
By Paolo Romero
Monday, September 3, 2007

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos allegedly made several efforts last year to bribe the head of a rival proponent of the government’s national broadband network (NBN) project with $10 million to give way to ZTE Corp.

Abalos also allegedly suggested that the contract be overpriced by about $70 million, to be charged as consultancy fees.

A source privy to the alleged bribery attempts said Abalos invited Jose de Venecia III, son of Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. and co-founder of Amsterdam Holdings Inc. (AHI) to the Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club sometime in December for a breakfast meeting.

The Comelec chairman is also a ranking officer of the exclusive golf club located in Mandaluyong City.

Abalos, who is set to be investigated in the House of Representatives for allegedly lobbying for the controversial deal in exchange for golf and sex, refused to make any further statement over the disclosure.

“I do not know what they are talking about,” Abalos blurted out.

Some lawmakers last week said they are studying the possibility of having Abalos impeached. The source also revealed the son of De Venecia was subjected to verbal abuse by Abalos, claiming he had the cellular phone of the Speaker’s son monitored.

All in all, there were about six meetings between Abalos and De Venecia III.

AHI and the US-based Arescom Inc. have been protesting the government’s entering into an agreement with ZTE saying the contract should be done through a bidding. AHI submitted a bid of $245 million while Arescom proposed $130 million.

The source claimed those who were present during the meeting included a certain Leo San Miguel, a contractor named Ruben Reyes, retired police general Edgar Dula Torres and Jimmy Paz, said to be Abalos’ chief of staff.

The source revealed Abalos pulled the young De Venecia to his office and asked him if he could back off from bidding.

“I want this contract,” Abalos reportedly told De Venecia III during the meeting. “I will give you $10 million.”

At that time, AHI’s proposal was already being evaluated by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) along with those of Arescom and ZTE.

All three proposals were endorsed by Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza to the NEDA for evaluation.

De Venecia III replied that he could not back off since he had foreign partners who all believe the AHI proposal is superior since the government would not spend a single centavo for the deal.

“With all due respect sir, I cannot do that (back off) even for $1 (million) because our proposal is better,” the source quoted De Venecia III as saying.

The hidden partner

Another breakfast meeting between Abalos and De Venecia III happened either on Dec. 20 or 21, the source added.

Again, Abalos tried to convince De Venecia III to give way to ZTE.

The Comelec chief also asked De Venecia III to join him in his trip to Shenzhen, China later that month to meet with ZTE officials.

The AHI official, however, told Abalos there was no need for him to travel since he already knew their Chinese counterparts. De Venecia’s broadband firm has been using ZTE equipment and he has been to the company’s headquarters in China in the past.

The AHI official could not say no to Abalos, “whom he continued to be deferential (to) because of his status and age,” the source said.

The source added De Venecia III tried to win Abalos to his side by offering him a position in AHI on the impression that the poll chief was interested in the NBN project.

Abalos and De Venecia III, along with other unidentified companions of the Comelec chief, met with ZTE officials on Dec. 27.

During the meeting with ZTE vice president Yu Yong, Abalos introduced De Venecia III as his “partner.”

The source revealed that during the meeting, the ZTE officials initially proposed $262 million for the deal.

De Venecia III checked with the Manila office of the ZTE and his own company experts on whether the amount was warranted.

The response was that the proposal should cost only around $130 million since the specifications in the ZTE proposal were not enough to cover the requirements of the NBN deal.

The AHI official told Abalos, while they were still in Shenzhen, that unless ZTE upgrades its proposal, the Chinese firm is proposing a stiff price for the NBN.

De Venecia III, the source said, offered to Abalos to renegotiate with the ZTE to get a lower cost for the Philippine government.

Abalos however suggested the difference in the contract, which later was priced at $330 million by ZTE, be charged as “consultancy fees” and other charges in which the paperwork would be done through his law firm.

“This is my last hurrah, let me have the contract,” Abalos told De Venecia in Filipino.

During the meeting, the source said, Abalos reportedly told ZTE officials that “we want our funds now.”

ZTE officials, however, asked for an assurance to bag the deal. A ZTE official also replied that “what about the funds we gave you?” the source said.

Sometime in January, an angry Abalos called up De Venecia III and began ranting and cursing him.

Abalos was complaining about the AHI official’s comments to his colleagues in the company about him.

“Do you want me to send transcripts on your conversations?” Abalos told the AHI official, the source said.

The government entered into an agreement with ZTE to undertake the NBN project on April 21 in Boao, China. It is not yet clear exactly what kind of agreement was forged but Mendoza explained the agreement was a supply contract.

The issue took a mysterious twist after Assistant Secretary Lorenzo Formoso of the Department of Transportation and Communications admitted losing the originals of the agreement in a hotel room shortly after they were signed. He claimed they were stolen.

Officials claimed the contract has been “reconstituted.”

Iloilo Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico earlier filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) pointing out the contract is unconstitutional and violated build-operate-transfer and bidding laws.

Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla exposed in a privilege speech the alleged irregularities in the transaction, saying a congressional inquiry is needed so that remedial legislation that would plug loopholes in existing laws could be crafted.

Violations

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Sergio Apostol, on the other hand, refused to comment on the controversy claiming the case has already been filed before the SC.

Secretary to the Cabinet Ricardo Saludo last week however claimed the deal is aboveboard and ZTE has proven to be a company with a track record.

But Padilla claimed government officials who negotiated the NBN deal with the ZTE may have violated the orders of President Arroyo.

Quoting sources, Padilla said the President had ordered during a Cabinet meeting last Nov. 21, 2006, that the NBN contract be done without expense to the government, and if possible by the BOT scheme.

“We have documents during that meeting showing the President saying that the project should be put up, but not at the government’s expense by means of a loan as what happened in the present setup,” Padilla told The STAR yesterday.

While respecting the urgency of the President’s opinion on the need to put up the NBN, Padilla claimed he is not sold to the idea.

He said the administration could not produce convincing arguments as to the necessity of the NBN, claiming the scheme appears to be a mere duplication of the operations of commercial telecommunication companies.  – With Shiela Crisostomo,Charlie Lagasca, Jess Diaz, Christina Mendez

http://www.philstar.com/index.php?Headlines&p=49&type=2&sec=24&aid=20070902132

Offline Louie

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Re: ‘Abalos tried to bribe ZTE rival into backing out’
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2007, 10:29:23 AM »
Somehow, I'm not surprised. But hopefully Abalos is not just a fall guy. Maybe this thing goes up even higher.

Offline angel0214

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Re: ‘Abalos tried to bribe ZTE rival into backing out’
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2007, 12:49:51 PM »
my friendsters always said that he was a bad guy.  now he's in the news again but makez me wander how this wil end up. watchuthinkinkingzz?
dnt underestim8 women!

Offline butcho

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Re: ‘Abalos tried to bribe ZTE rival into backing out’
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2007, 04:52:20 PM »
Hopefully with abalos behind bars. :)

Offline TNT2bluz

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Re: ‘Abalos tried to bribe ZTE rival into backing out’
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2007, 05:05:10 PM »
If there are recordings they're borked.
come on Toshi!

Offline Udongski

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Re: ‘Abalos tried to bribe ZTE rival into backing out’
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2007, 09:19:05 AM »
Ang hihilig talaga ng mga politiko natin pumasok sa mga ganitong deals.  Ilang deals na ang pinasok ng gobyerno na lagi na lang kinikwestyon dahil dubious, either overpriced o walang biding na naganap.  Kakapal ng mga mukha!

Offline giMhik

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Re: ‘Abalos tried to bribe ZTE rival into backing out’
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2007, 09:47:40 AM »
Kakapal talaga ng mga mukha.  Kailan kaya babalik ang tiwala ng mga mamamayan sa pamahalaan?  (Naks, Wikang Pambansa 101)

Shame on Abalos!