Jun Lozada’s testimony on how he was abducted by Malacanang agents upon his arrival at the airport reads like a suspense thriller. You thought it could only happen in novels and in the movies but this one here is as real as it can get.
But when the “suspense” subsides, outrage sets in. What happened to Lozada was a cover up most foul. It shows the extent the Arroyo government is willing to abuse its power and break the law.
1. Malacanang interfered with the Senate inquiry by making Lozada leave the country
Lozada was supposed to testify before the Senate on the anomaly-tainted ZTE broadband network deal but he was talked out of it by his boss, DENR secretary Lito Atienza. He was provided with manufactured travel requests and a cover story just so he could be sent to Hong Kong (though it was announced he was supposed to go to London for a “conference”). Atienza was credited with saying that the people will get angry if Lozada’s testimony ever got out.
2. Malacanang prevented the Senate from serving Lozada’s warrant
When the Senate hearing was over, and a warrant had been issued against him, Lozada returned to the Philippines. He had asked the help of religious groups to meet him at the airport. Instead, he was met by Malacanang operatives led by a certain SPO4 Roger Valeroso who now turns out to be a retired policeman working for Lito Atienza. Lozada was abducted at the airport. The people who took him were conscious not to let him fall into the hands of the Senate Sergeant at Arms.
3. Lozada was held against his will
In his statement, Lozada said that he was not free to move or do what he wanted while in the custody of what could be police and military elements. They drove him around Metro Manila and nearby provinces for hours. He had armed escorts.
4. Malacanang conducted illegal wiretapping
The operatives who took Lozada could intercept the radio signals of Senate security forces thus enabling them to evade the Senate arresting team. The operatives also were able to intercept Lozada’s text messages to his family. Lozada said that he was told by his captors to shut off his cellphone because they were intercepting his text messages. Lozada had wanted his family to triangulate his cellphone’s signal so they could track him. His captors were on to this.
5. Other Malacanang officials knew of the abduction
In Lozada’s testimony, it appears that the Executive Secretary knew of the abduction. A certain “Ma’am” was also mentioned by his captors which made many wonder if this was in any way a reference to the President. Lito Atienza knew of the abduction. So did Romulo Neri who also asked Lozada not to implicate the First Gentleman in the scandal. A former Cabinet official, Mike Defensor, also knew of the abduction and even attempted to bribe Lozada (panggastos) while convincing him to lie to the public about his abduction (hold a press conference).
6. Lozada was made to sign manufactured documents
First he was asked to make a handwritten note requesting the PNP for security. Then he was made to sign a manufactured affidavit that virtually clears Malacanang officials (saying he never spoke to any official regarding the ZTE deal). Then his sister was also made to sign a document requesting police security for Lozada. These documents were intended to cover up the abduction and to eventually destroy Lozada’s credibility should he ever come out against the regime. Fortunately for us, nobody believed the PNP and Malacanang when they came out with the signed letters. Everyone knew it was all a lie. What is perplexing is that the PNP chief Avelino Razon sticks to his version that Lozada wanted police security, even if no one believes him.
In the end, all Malacanang wanted was to prevent Lozada from testifying. If they couldn’t, they made sure his credibility will be suspect or at most destroyed.
That a government can undertake this kind of cover up in utter disregard for the law and other institutions is a potent argument for the removal of the Arroyo regime.
Another disturbing account in the Lozada testimony was one where he said Malacanang was also prepared to do everything to prevent Romulo Neri, former NEDA chair, from testifying. The Palace appeared to have been ready to use force just so Neri wouldn’t be held at the Senate, the day he appeared there. What exactly could have happened if the Senate held Lozada, we can only guess. But we know now that this government is capable of breaking any law and committing any crime.