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CA ruling a ‘vindication’–Palace, PNP, airport officials

Posted by Abi Kwok on September 15, 2008


But MIAA exec mulls raps vs whistleblower

By Abigail Kwok, Joel Guinto, Lira Dalangin-Fernandez

First Posted 10:48:00 09/15/2008


MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE 3) Malacañang and security officials said they felt “vindicated” after the Court of Appeals dismissed the plea for protection of a key witness in the national broadband network controversy.

At the same time, the Palace advised Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada Jr. to accept the appeals court ruling, saying expressing disappointment will no longer generate sympathy from the people.

“It is a vindication of our position in the Palace,” Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez said in a statement Monday, adding, “Our position from the beginning is based on factual truth and evidence.”

“Our courts have decided that there was no kidnapping done, contrary to the accusation of Mr. Lozada,” Golez added.

In a phone interview, retired General Angel Atutubo, MIAA assistant general manager for security and emergency services, said that when he learned of the news, he immediately arranged for a Thanksgiving Mass with his family at the St. Paul’s Parish in Marikina City.

“Siyempre natuwa kami, nakagaan ng kalooban at lumabas na rin yung katotohanan [Of course we were happy. I feel light because the truth has finally come out],” he said.

But Atutubo said he has consulted his lawyers on the possibility of filing counter charges against Lozada.

“My lawyers will be the one to arrange that,” he added.

In an interview earlier in the day, PNP director general Avelino Razon Jr. said that he would take the appellate court’s decision against Lozada as a “sweet ending” to his career as PNP chief.

Lozada, a former technical consultant of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) claimed he knew of the alleged anomalies surrounding the government’s botched $329-million contract with China’s ZTE Corp. for the national broadband project.

Lozada claimed that he was kidnapped by police and airport security at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in January, upon his arrival from Hong Kong, where Palace officials allegedly tried to hide him to evade summons from the Senate, which was investigating the ZTE

“It comes at a time where we are about to close our career and this vindication comes well with it. Naitayo natin ang ating image na bumaba [We were able to boost our image that has been tarnished],” said Razon, who would retire on September 27.

The court, in a September 12 decision written by Justice Celia Librea Leagogo, said Lozada’s right to life, liberty, and security were not violated or even threatened.

It said there was no evidence that Lozada was kidnapped from the airport. It said he knew that the men sent to fetch him were people sent by Environment Secretary Lito Atienza to secure him as they had agreed.

The CA also said that Lozada failed to show that the alleged armed men passing outside La Salle Greenhills and in places he visited were ordered by the government officials to spy on him.

“It has clearly shown in the CA decision that there was no threat whatsoever on the life of Lozada nor was there any case of kidnapping or frustrated murder,” Razon said.

Unlike Atutubo, Razon said that the PNP would not file counter-charges against Lozada but would rather move on. He admitted, however, that the image of the PNP was affected but “we rebounded back and we’ve regained our image.”

“Masyadong maraming oras na ang ating ginugol sa kasong wala namang katotohanan [We wasted a lot of time over a case that was not true] and we would rather concentrate on the bigger problems of the country…hindi na kami magfa-file [we will no longer file] because this is vindicating enough and it has shown that we were to our mission of serving and protecting Lozada and yung incident na yun [and that incident] was not actually a kidnapping or frustrated murder,” Razon said.

Atutubo maintained that what he did to Lozada was “airport courtesy” extended to VIPs such as lawmakers and other politicians.

Atutubo was among those accused of picking up Lozada at the airport after his arrival here.

“Sa amin pag-iibayuhin na lang namin ang aming trabaho [We will simply do our work to the best we can],” Atutubo said.

Meanwhile, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza told Lozada to “submit to the ruling.”

“You know, everybody will have to submit to a ruling, the Court of Appeals has just ruled, it’s difficult if he keeps on griping because he lost his case, this is the kind of mentality that people will not buy anymore,” Dureza said after attending the budget hearing of his department’s proposed outlay for 2009 amounting to P960 million.

Dureza said the ruling showed that Lozada’s claims have been untrue all along.

Asked if Lozada should now rest his case following the decision, Dureza said, “Let’s leave it to him on how he is going to do his thing.”

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