By Ellen Tordesillas
While waiting for the arrest warrant issued by the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division to be served to Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, the government’s star witness in the NBN/ZTE plunder case against Gloria Arroyo, members of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines wrote the Police Chief Alan Purisima requesting, among others, to make sure that “no untoward incident” would happen.
The nuns must be thinking of last month’s incident in Batangas when Fernando Morales , allegedly linked with Vic Siman who was among those killed in the Atimonan massacre, was killed while policemen were serving his arrest warrant for illegal possession of firearms.
Morales was in his underwear and was dragged out of his house at 1:30 a.m.
The arrest warrant for Lozada had nothing to do with NBN/ZTE. It’s for his alleged violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for allegedly awarding the leasehold right of a 6,599 hectare land to his brother Jose Orlando Lozada when he was still president of the Philippine Forest Corporation, a government-owned corporation.
Jose Orlando availed of a board-approved program of the PFC.
A P30,000 bail each was set for the temporary liberty of Lozada and his brother. Lozada has returned to the sanctuary of the Religious again, just like when he was testifying on the $320 million telecommunications deal, one of the biggest scandals in the Arroyo administrations.
Last Wednesday, the nuns who support Lozada met with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Social Services Dinky Soliman and Education Secretary Armin Luistro.
It will be recalled that the La Salle Religious community, of which Luistro was a member, provided Lozada and his family sanctuary when Gloria Arroyo was in power. Luistro together with Soliman actively supported Lozada’s crusade against Arroyo. Press Secretary Edwin Lacierda was Lozada’s lawyer.
The nuns complained why Erwin Santos, who was Arroyo hatchet man against Lozada, continues to be president of PFC.
Sources said the cabinet members told the nuns that Lozada is “out of President Aquino’s hands.” The appointment of Santos is the responsibility of Cesar L.Villanueva, chairman of Governance Commission for Government-owned- and -controlled Corporations.
The nuns, it seems, are not satisfied with the explanation because they are seeking an audience with the President.
Supporters of Aquino who marched with Lozada against Arroyo are puzzled with Aquino’s distant, even adverse, attitude towards the whistleblower. The President had intervened directly in the case of Grace Padaca, even paying with his own money for her bail. The DOJ removed from the list of accused in the Ampatuan massacre the name of Norie Unas, the chief of staff of former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., whom they used as star witness against Arroyo in the hastily- prepared electoral sabotage case.
Lozada’s friends wonder if Aquino’ attitude could have something to do with Lozada not consenting to his request in February 2008 for him (Aquino, who was then senator) to fetch the former in Hongkong, where he was told by then Environment Secretary Lito Atienza to hide so he could not testify in the Senate investigation of the NBN/ZTE deal.
It would have been a chance for Aquino, who had a lackluster record as senator, to shine.
Actually, it was not only Aquino who Lozada turned down. A number of politicians, businessmen, lawyers, and members of media offered but his decision was he would only go with the Religious.
Which was what he did when he surfaced after being waylaid by police authorities upon his arrival from Hongkong.
In the course of his testimony in the NBN/ZTE case, Lozada stepped on powerful toes who continue to wield clout even with the change of political leadership.. That what he and his family is concerned about. They still remember Marlene Esperat, the star witness in the Fertilizer scam who was gunned down in front of her children.
Lozada said he will abide by the law. He is not running from justice. He is just being careful.
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