The influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Sunday, the eve of the second round of explosive Senate hearings on the scandal ridden ZTE-NBN deal, came out with a strongly worded statement commending the recent “public confessions” of Senate star witness Engr. Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada and ousted House Speaker Jose de Venecia on “questionable government deals in millions of dollars including scandalous and immoral kickbacks”.
“It was courageous (of them) to come out in the open to ‘publicly confess’ the high level of graft and corruption that they knew all along and ‘somehow’ have been involved in” said the bishops in a statement signed by CBCP President and Jaro Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo.
“Truth hurts. Truth liberates. But the truth must be served. The truth will set our country free” the CBCP statement continued.
The bishops noted that Lozada and de Venecia’s decision to step up and tell all “may be considered a providential event that may yet save our country from being hostage to scandalous and shady government deals that offend the common good and serve only personal, family and group interests.”
They strongly lamented the fact that the country “has too long been captive to the corruption of people in governance”. Corruption is in truth our greatest shame as a people, the clerics confessed as they encouraged “truth-loving and freedom-loving citizens” to support the crusade for truth initiated by the religious sector, civil groups and the clergy.
“Only the truth not lies and deceits will set our country free. This truth challenges us now to communal action” they said.
The CBCP reiterated also their earlier call to the Filipino people to “pray together, reason together, decide together, act together” adding that “the flame of social consciousness and common good must be kept alive.”
For his part, Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz said over the radio that the prelate’s call for ‘communal action’ means that it is the time for the people to take action and call for change in the country’s leadership. While admitting that Lagdameo’s call to action may be too general, Cruz said “people power” is still a viable option so long as it is peaceful and will not be bloody.
“Ang talaga pong buod niyan ay wala ng pag-asa kung hindi dapat palitan na… Tama na, sobra na, kilos na” Cruz said.
OFWs salute Lozada
Though miles away from the Philippine Senate where the hearings on the ZTE-NBN scandal is taking place, Lozada earned the admiration of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) “for daring to expose the truth behind the anomalous ZTE-NBN deal.”
“We applaud Jun Lozada for exposing the billion peso corruption in the ZTE-NBN deal and the South Rail project. He validates what theFilipino people have known all along – that the Arroyo administrationand particularly the First Family are guilty of raiding this country’scoffers for their own benefit,” said Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson of Migrante International, an alliance of OFW groups worldwide.
The group described as “criminal” the fact that while OFWs sacrifice their lives and limbs overseas just to uplift their families out of poverty while at the same time propping up the country, “Arroyo, her family and her cohorts are plundering oureconomy. Through their billion peso kickbacks, they are literally stealing food out of our plates, denying our children access to good education and leaving the sick to die without adequate health care.”
Filipino migrants in the Middle East region agrees. John L.C. Monterona, coordinator for the Middle East chapter of Migrante said that Mr. Lozada’s statement is “believable & so damaging against a long perceived corrupt government of Arroyo.”
Migrante also called on the Senate to stop at nothing in their bid to unearth “the depths of corruption in this case and other cases”. They also urged the Senators to invite for questioning no less than the First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.
“Enough is enough. We enjoin all migrant workers and the Filipino people to unite to oust the corrupt fascist, puppet and anti-migrant Arroyo regime,” Regalado concluded.
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