CA affirms ruling vs Neri on broadband deal

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Monday, May 12, 2014


A division of the Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld its decision finding former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri guilty of simple misconduct for recommending the approval of the $329-million national broadband network deal between the Philippine government and Chinese firm ZTE Corp.

In a two-page resolution, the CA former Sixth Division dismissed the motions for reconsideration filed by Neri and the private respondents led by the late activist priest, Fr. Joe Dizon.

Neri wanted the court to lift the penalty, which Dizon’s camp saw as a slap on the wrist.

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Last year, the CA said the Office of the Ombudsman failed to establish that Neri received P200 million as kickback in exchange for endorsing the project, which intends to provide Internet access to all local government units and streamline government services.

The CA, however, called out Neri for playing golf and having lunch meetings with ZTE officials.

"As public official, he is required at all times to exercise the highest sense of integrity and dedication to his duty,” said the decision, which ordered Neri to pay a fine equivalent to six months of his salary.

Corruption allegations pushed then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to cancel the deal in October 2007.

Five years later, the Ombudsman filed graft cases against her before the Sandiganbayan after she reportedly received “directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, or favor” so that the overpriced project would push through. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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