PRESSURE MOUNTS ON NERI TO “TELL THE TRUTH”
1 SEPTEMBER 2009
REF: JOEY SALGADO
The truth will set you free.
This was the unsolicited advice given by Makati Mayor and United Opposition (UNO) president Jejomar C. Binay to Social Security System (SSS) Chair Romulo Neri who was reported being disappointed with Malacanang’s statement which basically said he was on his own in dealing with the graft case filed by the Ombudsman over the scrapped $329-million national broadband network (NBN) contract with ZTE Corp.
“Inilaglag ka na, Secretary Neri,” Binay said, after Palace officials, in separate statements, said Malacanang was keeping its distance from the former chair of the National Ecnomic Development Authority (NEDA).
“Please don’t take the truth to your grave, as you have earlier professed. The truth will set you free, Mr. Neri,” he added.
Mrs. Arroyo and her husband Mike Arroyo had snubbed the hearing set by the Senate Blue Ribbon committee to shed light on the First Couple’s involvement in the botched deal with the Chinese firm.
Malacanang said “there is nothing more” the First Couple can add to the issue, but Binay reminded Palace officials that both Mrs.
But Binay said the First Couple have yet to shed light on the issue, citing statements from Palace officials and private lawyers that “clouded the issue rather than clarified it.’
“When the supposed leader of the land leaves the country like a thief in the night to witness the signing of a multi-million deal with a private company, there needs to be an explanation on the undue interest in the contract,” he said.
“We have not heard a valid and credible explanation for Mrs. Arroyo’s conduct, not have we been clarified on the extent of Mr. Arroyo’s role as the alleged backer of the deal,” he added.
The Ombudsman had recommended the filing of graft charges against Neri and former Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos Sr.
Neri, now head of the Social Security System, has not confirmed attendance at the hearing and could not be reached for comment as of press time.