Sunday, April 08, 2007

Antonio Trillanes For Senator

“Tapusin ang the Greatest Road User’s Tax Robbery”
“Trillanes, Bayang Malinis.” Gloria Arroyo government’s scam in the P365-million lampposts at Cebu International Convention Center .

“Tapusin ang the Greatest Heist”
“Trillanes, Bayang Malinis.” The Gloria Arroyo administration squandered P27 billion of the P35-billion ill-gotten wealth of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos. The recovered 35 billion pesos ($683 M) from Swiss bank solely for the purpose of indemnifying the martial-law victims of human rights violations and to fund comprehensive agrarian reform program (CARP). Hello Joc-Joc Bolante! Masarap ba ang liquid fertilizer?

“Tapusin ang the Greatest Railroad Robbery”
“Trillanes, Bayang Malinis.” Gloria Arroyo’s North Rail Project allegedly over-priced by P29 Billion ($503 million).

Antonio "Magadalo" Trillanes

Saturday, 02 12, 2005 Daily Tribune
GMA’s China North Rail project reeks of graft
HOUSE LEADER IMPLICATED IN ALLEGED P29-B RAIL OVERPRICE
The gloves are really off.

Opposition Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile yesterday heatedly denounced the North Rail project and the half a billion dollar loan secured by President Arroyo from the Chinese government during her state visit to China late last year.

Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. was also linked to the alleged overpricing of $503 million or P29 billion in the foreign-funded North Rail Project has after his name, as well as one William Go, cropped up during the hearing in the Senate yesterday.

Enrile, in exposing the alleged P29-billion North Rail scam, vowed that it won't matter to him if he exposes the high and the mighty in government in this scam, saying “I will expose all of you before the Filipino people. I am old and I fear no one.”

Enrile stunned senators after he had disclosed that apart from the high 3 percent interest the Chinese Bank exacts from the government, the Department of Finance (DoF) also imposed a 1percent additional interest in the project cost, a move lawmakers in the upper chamber found questionable since this insertion was never part of the original arrangement.

With the additional 1 percent, this will increase the capital cost by 25 percent, Enrile stressed, adding the cost mentioned is still separate and distinct from the $82 million that will be borne by the government for undertaking the project and some P7.3 billion funding requirement for relocation of almost 41,000 affected families.

It was admitted by Arroyo officials in an earlier hearing that there was no money with which to fund the relocation of the squatters in the North Rail area.

Enrile, in exposing the North Rail project anomaly, said the loan for the project that was secured by Mrs. Arroyo from China's Export-Import Bank (Exim Bank) through the intercession of the government of People's Republic of China (PROC) during her state visit, is said to be a pet project of De Venecia.

The disclosure is seen to steer the ongoing investigation into the hands of the powerful blue ribbon committee given the alleged big names in the government supposedly involved in the purported scam.

In the hearing conducted by urban planning, housing and resettlement committee headed by Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, De Venecia was alluded to as the official behind this alleged highly-anomalous deal.

Enrile revealed this information reached his office as he questioned the one-percent additional interest rate the DoF had imposed as a means to guarantee government's payment of the loan.

In questioning the DoF officials, Enrile also made mention of a certain Hong Kong-based William Go, whom De Venecia allegedly used as a broker to ensure that the contractor, China National Machinery and Equipment Corp. (CNMEG), secures the contract.

Heatedly, Enrile charged: “You are plundering the people! The mere fact that you are doing this without notifying us of this, is already a crime.”

He added: What kind of bankers are you that you drain the blood of the country? This scam is being talked about in coffeeshops-and the word is out that very high government officials are involved in this scam. Even the name of De Venecia has been linked to this.

“And who is this William Go from Hong Kong? He (allegedly) has a commission in this (deal) and the public will be made to pay for it. Even other politicians being involved in this are (allegedly receiving) commissions...they are 'commissioners,'” Enrile said, in berating the DoF officials.

It was learned that Enrile was made aware of the fact that the DoF had imposed a 1 percent interest on top of the three percent.

“The cost of this is going to be four percent instead of three percent...and the people who tell me this are themselves in the board of this railways (North Luzon Railways Corp. (NLRC) project. They have told me that they are being exacted another one percent by the DoF in addition to the (one percent interest rate of) $503 million.

“The finance department is passing this on to the railways corporation...in effect an additional 25 percent of the cost of money... that will be passed on to the riding public...if this is true, we are bargaining off the nation and the people with 25 percent,” he said.

DoF officials confirmed the one percent interest, saying it is in the draft subsidiary loan of the agreement to cover the cost of managing of the relending of the loan.

Based on their explanation, it would appear that the additional interest rate was made to ensure the Chinese foreign bank of the Arroyo government's payment of the loan in case there would be a default in obligation.

“For God's sake why are you doing this kind of thing? Managing a loan? You are being paid to handle the finances of the government and you are going to act as if you were a corporation, a bank to exact money from the people like this...that's $5 million,” Enrile said.

The senator was assured, however, that the subsidiary agreement is yet to be signed but the opposition lawmaker would not hear of it as he still required the officials to submit in the next hearing their explanation on the matter along with the necessary documents and the signed contracts.

In view of this information, Biazon, during the hearing, moved that the ongoing investigation be turned over to the committee on accountability of public officers and investigations or the blue ribbon committee chaired by Sen. Joker Arroyo.

Biazon's decision was immediately supported by panel members, Enrile and Sen. Juan Flavier.

Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. who paved the way for the conduct of the probe after he delivered a privilege speech earlier this month questioning the project said the matter is proving to be messy as the public was given the impression the North Rail project would be built at no cost to the government after President Arroyo claimed she had managed to secure a loan package from the Chinese government when she made her state visit to China.

The project has been awarded to CNMEG and is funded by a $503 million loan, of which $421 million comes from China's Export-Import Bank.

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