Monday, February 18, 2008

DOJ To Start Own ZTE Probe

Investigations in the Senate and the Ombudsman notwithstanding, the Department of Justice will start its own fact-finding investigation into the controversial ZTE deal tomorrow focusing its probe into other crimes that might have been committed in the course of the deal and the succeeding investigations surrounding it.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez met with the panel this afternoon to discuss the dileanation of task between the DOJ and the Office of the Ombudsman which started its probe today.

Gonzalez had earlier formed a panel to be chaired by Usec. Ernesto Pineda (see earlier post).

Pineda said the DOJ investigation will be different from the Ombudsman because it will focus on the probable commissions of the crimes of perjury, false testimonies, and intriguing against honor which he said are punishable under the revised penal code.

Pineda added that the investigation will look into violations of the Government Procurement Act which is not covered by the investigation of the Ombudsman.

Those who will appear in tomorrow's hearing will be DOTC Assistant Secretary Lorenzo Formoso and former NEDA and now CHED Chairman Romulo Neri.

Expected to be called on for the investigation will be former Philforest Corp. President Rodolfo "Jun" Lozada, former COMELEC Chair Benjamin Abalos, Joey de Venecia, PNP Dir. Avelino Razon, and officials of the ZTE Corporation.

Pineda denies criticisms that the investigation will zero in on Lozada.

"There are a lot of people who have testified already (who may have given false testimonies). We're not targeting a specific person," Pineda said.

Lozada, meanwhile is still seeking protective custody from the Court of Appeals.

Last week, he appeared before the Court of Appeals 17th Division and sought protection from the Court.

He said that he was worried that the Senate could no longer provide for his security after the investigation is concluded.

But the Court did not grant protection, at least not yet because he is still under the custody of the Senate.

Senate President Manny Villar for his part said that the Senate will do all it can to protect Lozada even after the investigation is terminated.

"We are responsible for him, for a witness like him," said Villar.

No comments: