Friday, February 29, 2008

Third Witness A-No Show at DOJ ZTE Probe

The Department of Justice investigation of the controversial ZTE deal suffered yet another non-attendance of a witness, making the panel head think of asking for some "coercive power" to compel witnesses to attend.

Philforest Corp. Project Development Head Erwin Santos cancelled at the last minute saying he has a meeting with some investors.

This is the third time that a witness did not attend the hearings. Last week, Senate star witness Jun Lozada and CHED Secretary Romulo Neri also did not attend the hearing.

Lozada sent a letter through his lawyers and said he did not want to participate in a "political exercise," adding it was not the job of the department to conduct fact-finding investigations.

Neri also cancelled at the last minute when he read in newspaper reports that the justice department was going to file violation of the Revised Penal Code for revealing confidential information and documents regarding the deal.

With this, fact-finding panel head Usec. Ernesto Pineda said they are thinking of asking for an executive order that will give them some "coercive power" to compel its witnesses to attend.

"If they don't attend, then there would have some repercussions," Pineda said.

The fact-finding investigation was ordered by President Gloria Arroyo.

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