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Senate Squabble on Broadband Deal
« on: September 23, 2007, 12:44:16 AM »
By Rey Anthony Chiu
Philippine Information Agency
Bohol

A vocal senator smells a plot as Jose de Venecia III, the accuser of the controversial National Broadband Network (NBN) surfaces.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, senate finance committee vice-chair, said that Jose de Venecia III has to explain what group he is representing.

De Venecia, who said he owns Amsterdam Holdings Inc. (AHI) enterered into a bid with the government to provide the country’s digital infrastructure backbone but lost in the bidding against a Chinese Corporation.

De Venecia III, son of House speaker Jose de Venecia, by law should have been barred from entering government contracts, himself being a son of the House Speaker.

More than that, Defensor said she noticed a highly publicized propaganda intended to scandalize President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo by creating intrigue between her and Speaker of the House Jose De Venecia Jr.

“Who is funding Joey?” she asks.

“The political noise has reached very high decibel. Producing that kind of noise is very expensive. So where is the money coming from?” she asks again.

The top caliber lawyer said she suspects De Venecia III is not the sole owner of the AHI.

“He lost the bid, but he is not even trying for a rebid. Instead, he is spraying automatic gun fire on the First Gentleman, Atty. Jose Miguel Arroyo, Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos, and DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza. This is exceedingly strange,” Santiago said.

Debunking on the perception the instigators in the plot wanted the public to believe, Santiago said the NBN is not yet a done deal.

“The public officials involved should stop acting as if this is a done deal. It is not, and it is Congress which will have the final say,” she said.

Santiago explained that congressional approval is necessary, since the NBN project would create a future debt for the country, which would require payment by the National Treasury.

To guide the people on how the project goes, Santiago enumerated the five steps for the project to be considered completed.
 
The first step, she said is for the Budget department to issue a Forward Obligational Authority. Then the Office of the President issues full powers to the Finance department. From then, the Finance department, on behalf of the Philippine government would enter into a loan agreement.

The fourth step, she stressed is for the Monetary Board to approve the loan and then Congress can move in to approve the loan through the 2008 Budget or the General Appropriations Act.

The same is in the exercise of the constitutional power to approve the budget prepared by the Office of the President.


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