Philippine House Speaker, Son Face Graft Charges; Deny Wrongdoing

October 9, 2007 at 7:30 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 09, 2007) – Private lawyer Roel Pulido filed multiple graft charges against House Speaker Jose De Venecia Jr. and his son, Jose De Venecia III.

The charges, Pulido said, stem from the unlawful submission by Amsterdam Holdings Inc. (AHI) of a bid to install a broadband network for the government and the anomalous award of a congressional franchise to Multi-Media Telephony Inc. (MTI).

He said under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, or Republic Act 3019, once convicted of the charges, both the father and the son could face up to 10 years in prison for each count, perpetual disqualification from public office and confiscation or forfeiture in favor of the government of any prohibited interest.

In all, Pulido said he charged the Speaker with six counts of violating Section 5 of RA 3019, and his son, five counts of breaking the same provision.

Section 5 of RA 3019 says: “Prohibition on certain relatives – It shall be unlawful for the spouse or for any relative, by consanguinity or affinity, within the third civil degree, of the President of the Philippines, the Vice-President of the Philippines, the President of the Senate, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to intervene, directly or indirectly, in any business, transaction, contract or application, with the Government…”

Pulido expressed confidence that the Ombudsman would be able to resolve the charges promptly, saying all the evidence that he cited in his complaint are based on public records.

“This is really up to the Ombudsman to fully investigate. We are totally convinced that we have a solid case,” Pulido said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

In his complaint filed on Monday, Pulido said the Speaker and his son violated Section 5 when AHI, which the younger De Venecia categorically said is owned and controlled by him, submitted an uninvited bid to put up a public broadband network.

Pulido also said the Speaker and his son violated Section 5 when the younger De Venecia’s firm, MTI, applied and was awarded a lucrative franchise by Congress not just once, but twice, in February 1995 and in June 1997, while his father was the House leader.

Pulido said the criminal charges that he filed would “reinforce” the breach of ethics complaint that he previously lodged against the Speaker before the House committee on ethics and privileges.

To bolster his criminal complaint, Pulido cited an affidavit that De Venecia III submitted to the Senate blue ribbon committee, as well as his testimony before the panel.

In his testimony and affidavit, the younger De Venecia said that he owned AHI; that AHI submitted a bid to corner a public contract to build a broadband network for the government; and that the Speaker arranged a breakfast with his son and then Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos, where the three discussed what Pulido alleged as “clearly illegal machinations” to snatch a government contract.

And that the Speaker also arranged a meeting between his son and Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza so that the son may get Mendoza to endorse AHI’s bid to put up the broadband network.

But Pulido’s move was criticized by some lawmakers, saying, the charges were meant to shield President Gloria Arroyo from impeachment charges the opposition was planning to file.

Pulido on Tuesday denied the accusations, saying, he was not shielding Arroyo and that the charges are all centered on the De Venecias and Arroyo. The De Venecias denied any wrongdoing.

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