Women's group files graft raps vs Lozada

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 13 2008 08:18 PM | Updated as of Mar 14 2008 04:18 AM

A women’s group filed charges of illegal procurement and nepotism against Senate star witness and former Philippine Forest Corp. (PhilForest) chief Rodolfo Lozada Jr., ABS-CBN News reported Thursday.

The group Babae Para sa Kaunlaran (BABAE KA) accused Lozada of entering into several irregular transactions including the use of PhilForest funds to acquire P5-million worth of insurance, with his wife as the selling agent.

The group also claimed that Lozada hired his own brother to serve as vice-president for marketing of PhilForest with a monthly salary of P40,000.

BABAE KA added that Lozada distributed more than 40 hectares of government land to his siblings.

“I’m a mother. And I don’t want my children seeing those who have violated the law go unpunished,” said BABAE KA president Ruth Vasquez.

“After [seeing] all the evidence, I no longer believe him,” said Corazon Tumang, BABAE KA vice-president.

Lozada became popular after surfacing and exposing the alleged multi-million dollar bribery in the government's scrapped national broadband network project with ZTE Corp.

He claimed that several personalities including former election chief Benjamin Abalos and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo stands to gain millions from the deal.

Rex Fernandez, legal counsel for Lozada, countered the charges made by BABAE KA, saying that the group was harassing his client.

"They know that to hurt the family is to hurt Jun because he is close to them," he said.

BABAE KA, which ran but lost in the last party-list election, denies that Malacañang is behind its move.

A PhilForest official earlier made a similar accusation, citing that Lozada allegedly condoned irregularities in the agency’s procurement process and distributed land to his relatives.

PhilForest program development manager Erwin Santos said that during Lozada’s stint, procurements made by the agency did not go through the normal bidding process.