To a fellow economist and former colleague, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

We are outraged by the revelations made by Engr. Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. at the Philippine Senate Blue Ribbon hearings last 8 February 2008 about the overpriced Zhong Xing Telecommunication Equipment Company-National Broadband Network (ZTE-NBN) project. The project has no clear public rationale in the first place. We are dismayed by the revelations of Mr. Lozada that former Commission on Election Chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr., with the alleged involvement of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, ordered the inclusion in the proposed project a large amount of kickbacks, amounting to as much as 130 million US dollars (or more than 5.2 billion pesos), enough money to remove the yearly public school classroom backlog, or purchase 5.8 million sacks of NFA rice, or alternatively secure the basic needs of about 29,000 poor families for a year. Simply put, a lot is being sacrificed for the greed of the few.

We are angered by the continuing attempt to cover up the anomalous circumstances surrounding the project, including the supposed kidnapping of Mr. Lozada to keep him from testifying in the Senate. We demand that government remove the cloak of Executive Order 464 and the invocation of executive privilege to allow public officials that have knowledge on the transaction to publicly testify on the circumstances of the deal. We demand the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to release records of the meetings that allowed the contract to be processed. Because of the nature of the work of the NEDA in national economic planning to promote national development and public welfare (and not for private or individual interests), these minutes are public records. We want Secretary Romulo Neri, an Ateneo high school alumnus and supposed staunch advocate of reforms to eradicate transactional politics and oligarchic dominance in the country, to reveal all that he knows about the matter. Efficiency and equity demand no less.

We abhor the habit of this administration of forging secret deals and engaging in non-transparent processes in developing and contracting large infrastructure projects, especially foreign donor-funded programs, contrary to the tenets of good governance. We call on friends and colleagues in the government, especially the alumni of our university, and other sectors to help ferret out the truth about other alleged irregular deals entered into by corrupt public officials, including the fertilizer scam, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority book scam and the North Rail project.

We urge our fellow economist, alumna, and former Ateneo colleague, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, to fully explain and account for all the anomalies under her administration to prevent our country from plunging into another political and economic crisis. Indeed, we are dismayed that Mrs. Arroyo has not exercised the vast powers and resources available to the Presidency to ensure that large-scale corruption in the government is not only blocked but also punished, and that these irregularities have only increased political instability and uncertainty in the country. We are also offended that the Presidency has instead utilized these vast powers and resources to turn its back from servicing the public and contribute to the advancement of private greed, including the Machiavellian buying of congressmen, governors, and everybody else that get its way. And sadly, these abuses have eroded the meaning and legitimacy of the Presidency. If she fails to fully account and explain the anomalies and corrupt practices in her administration, the most honorable thing she can do is to resign from the Presidency.

Finally, we publicly pledge to heed the Catholic Bishops’ call to communal action by supporting the activities that would promote transparency, accountability, and good governance, and we call on our fellow social scientists and academics to support this advocacy. We pledge to make our voices heard by committing to various ways of peaceful and non-violent political mobilization.

– Signatures –

Fernando T. Aldaba
Cristina M. Bautista
Germelino M. Bautista
Edsel L. Beja, Jr.
Diana U. del Rosario
Luis F. Dumlao
Cielito F. Habito
Leonardo A. Lanzona
Joseph Anthony Y. Lim
Romelia I. Neri
Ellen H. Palanca
Malou A. Perez
Joselito T. Sescon
Tara Sia-Go
Patrick Gerard C. Simon-King
Rosalina P. Tan
Philip Arnold P. Tuaño

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