Palace awaits Senate report on NBN-ZTE project

September 2, 2009 11:50 am 

MANILA, Sept. 2 — Malacañang is awaiting the final report of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on the botched US$ 329-million National Broadband Network (NBN) project to compare it with the legal findings of the Office of the Ombudsman.

The project would have connected all government offices through a nationwide digital communications backbone built by Chinese company Zhong Xing Telecommunications Equipment.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said in a press briefing today that committee chairman Senator Richard Gordon is a competent lawyer and a seasoned politician and the Palace expects him to come out with a very good report.

Ermita added that it is also significant to see if there will be actions that need to be taken against anyone as a result of the Senate inquiry in aid of legislation.

Gordon said the committee will recommend the filing of charges against the people involved in the project, if there is sufficient evidence. In the absence of evidence, however a person perceived to have had a part on the deal may still be reprimanded and asked to explain.

In a 144-page decision signed by Overall Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro, complaints against First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, several government officials, and ZTE executives were dismissed for lack of probable cause.

The panel has not been presented with convincing and solid evidence directly or indirectly linking respondent First Gentleman in the project, the Ombudsman decision said.

The Ombudsman also noted there is nothing to connect President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the deal because the complainants failed to show a copy of the NBN-ZTE contract. (PNA) scs/OPS/ssc

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