Women's group denies Palace hand in Lozada suit

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 14 2008 02:26 PM | Updated as of Mar 14 2008 10:26 PM

A women’s group denied Friday that Malacañang is behind the organization's move to sue Senate star witness Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada Jr. before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Lawyer Jose Remollo, legal counsel of Babae Para sa Kaunlaran (BABAE KA), denied allegations that the complaint is Malacañang's revenge against Lozada for his revelations before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on the controversial National Broadband Network (NBN) project with China’s ZTE Corp.

“That is not true. BABAE KA has a principle, and it’s a party list organization. They have supported, even before, persons who run in the Senate that weren’t allies of Malacañang or with the government,” Remollo said.  

Remollo said Lozada's testimony does not absolve him of any illegal activities he might have done while he was president of the Philippine Forest Corp. He said Lozada should confess before a court of law and not in a Senate committee.

Earlier, the group filed charges of illegal procurement and nepotism against Lozada before the Office of the Ombudsman.

The group 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.

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.

Lozada captured nationwide attention after linking former elections chief Benjamin Abalos Sr. and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo to the allegedly graft-marred NBN deal.

Rex Fernandez, legal counsel for Lozada, said BABAE KA's charges are meant to harass his client. "They know that to hurt the family is to hurt Jun because he is close to them," he said.