April 30, 2009

Lozada - more than an accidental hero

Engineer Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada is an accidental hero but a hero nonetheless to a people starved for real-life, modern-day heroes. As star witness in the Senate probe on the highly anomalous, $329 NBN-ZTE broadband deal, he exposed the shenanigans of then Comelec Commissioner Abalos, First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, all the way up to de facto President Gloria Arroyo, in inking the contract with a Chinese government-owed corporation to the detriment of public interest. He also exposed the use of government forces to kidnap him and hold him against his will while presidential operators alternately threatened and attempted to bribe him to keep his mouth shut.

Jun Lozada is a hero for (1) deciding to tell the truth and not be a party to a massive cover-up; (2) being steadfast and not caving in to enticements and pressures for him to recant; (3) and for fighting back against political persecution, his own and indirectly, that of others targeted by the Arroyo regime.

In particular, he has taken his cause against the corrupt GMA regime one step further in this latest episode of the continuing saga - Lozada and the Filipino people vs Malacañang - by his refusal to file bail in the perjury case filed against him by Mr. Mike Defensor. Instead he has chosen to go to jail to assert legally and politically that there are absolutely no grounds for his arrest. Rather, he is a victim of Malacanang’s political vendetta and its desperate attempts to deodorize the stink of the NBN-ZTE and other corrupt deals.

Too bad for Malacanang, Mr. Lozada’s story was much more believable; his body language, more spontaneous and sincere; and the dramatic circumstances surrounding his decision to testify in the Senate and state the truth as he knew it, not only added to his credibility but was so gripping, the usually boring Senate investigations became material for prime time TV.

Overwhelming public opinion at the time was that Mr. Lozada told the truth while FG’s and Mrs. Arroyo’s cohorts like Mr. Abalos, and her lapdogs like Mr. Defensor, lied through their teeth. What with the Arroyo regime’s moves to keep then NEDA Secretary Romulo Neri from giving damaging testimony by invoking “executive privilege”, the Arroyo regime’s legal acrobatics was exposed as its way to maintain a humongous lie and get off the hook, the way it did with the “Hello Garci” election fraud scandal and later, the Jocjoc Bolante fertilizer scam.

At first blush, it would appear that Mr. Lozada is trying to be some kind of martyr, if not trying to get public sympathy as an underdog. But what he has done is embark on a determined campaign for justice: first, in the court of public opinion; and secondly, but no less importantly, in the judge’s court.

By refusing to post bail, he has squarely taken on the gross injustice of the court’s finding of probable cause (that he had lied in his sworn testimony) and its issuance of a warrant for his arrest. Had he immediately filed bail to avoid detention, it would have meant accepting the court’s findings and submitting himself to it. The news would have merited a small spot in the inside pages of the newspapers and thereafter been consigned to oblivion. Malacañang would have won Round 1 of the fight.

Mr. Defensor stated in a press conference - while Mr. Lozada was being arrested and just before he flew off on a vacation to the USA with his entire family in tow - that he had sought relief from the courts because he wanted to preserve the honor of his name. Of course, no one really believes the guy considering he has allowed himself to be used repeatedly by his Great Patroness, Mrs. Arroyo, for all sorts of missions impossible, doing political damage control. He only ended up with egg on his face and his name and reputation damaged further each time.

Mr. Lozada has repeatedly stated that this is not just about him and the seemingly peevish Mr. Defensor. He had initially thought of resuming a normal life, going back home with his family and putting up some kind of business so that he would no longer have to depend on the sanctuary program of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines. Then this reversal of the court ruling that he had not perjured himself and the order for his arrest.

He could have chosen to go down quietly, i.e. not fight this latest legal setback and just hope that his tormentors get tired of playing games with him and for things to blow over. Like other whistleblowers before him who picked up the pieces of their life after courageously testifying in the Senate or in court and then finding themselves hung out high and dry with no legal and physical protection against the powerful people they dared expose.

Instead Mr. Lozada has chosen passive resistance: to go to jail yet still do battle albeit within the confines of the judicial processes that have been shown highly stacked against him.

His move has taken Malacañang by surprise and is likely causing Mrs. Arroyo and her political advisers sleepless nights. It has landed in print and broadcast media headlines. And it has the potential to capture people’s imaginations and get them on their feet, raging against the injustice of this regime and its manipulation of the flawed judicial system.

But on the part of those who support him - the truth seekers, the social and political activists and those who are just plain fed up with the exploitative and oppressive system - resistance must be active.

Jun Lozada deserves our support. His recent actions are showing him to be an essentially upright and courageous man with an intense sense of patriotism and an unflagging confidence his fellow Filipinos will see the truth and embrace it. His fight is also our fight. And it can be the occasion to further the struggle against systemic corruption and elite politics that is almost universally abhorred except by those who gain from it and wish to maintain the status quo.

Jun Lozada is a leading member of Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change, a new movement that gathers concerned citizens desirous of a more meaningful change in our society; not just a change of leadership in government but a decisive break from the poverty-ridden, unjust and corrupt social system that grew worse even after two EDSA uprisings. His active participation in Pagbabago! shows he has gone a long, long way from being an accidental hero.

Would it not be an irony of the most triumphant kind if this latest attempt to silence Jun Lozada, to break his will and to isolate him, should in fact turn into an outpouring of support for him and a denunciation of this lying, plundering, and murderous regime?

Let it be so.#


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