THE Sandiganbayan, the Philippine anti-graft court, on Tuesday sentenced whistle blower Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada and his brother to a six to 10 year imprisonment after they were found guilty of graft.
Specifically, engineer Lozada and brother Jose Orlando were given prison terms by the anti-graft court’s Fourth Division for violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 (the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) in connection with a 2009 land deal of a government office he used to head. He and his brother were given 15 days to appeal.
At the same time, the brothers were found not guilty of violating Section 3(h) of same law over the case.
Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 prohibits any party from “causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. This provision shall apply to officers and employees of offices or government corporations charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other concessions.”
On the other hand, Section 3(h) of the same law prohibits any “director or indirectly having financing or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interest.”
Court records shows the Office of the Ombudsman accused Lozada of graft over his 2009 decision as president of the government owned Philippine Forest Corporation to grant separate leasehold rights over a 6.59 hectares of public lands to his brother and a private firm with ties to him under the Lupang Hinirang program of Philforests.
In response to the verdict, Lozada said he is a victim of conspiracy of politicians involved in his expose’. He noted he is just an ordinary government official with no power to appoint or make any big decisions.
In 2008, he accused then First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, former Commission on Elections chair Benjamin Abalos, and former Cabinet officials of the Arroyo administration of taking bribes from Chinese officials in the botched $329-million national broadband network government deal with ZTE Corporation of China.
The project aimed to computerize the bureaucracy.
Lozada’s expose’ triggered a senate probe of the deal and the filing of graft charges against Abalos and former socioeconomic planning secretary Romulo Neri.
Mounting pressure from opposition lawmakers coupled with public outrage over allegations of overpricing, corruption, and backroom deals in connection with the project eventually prompted then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to cancel it.
The Sandiganbayan acquitted Abalos while Neri, who Abalos had allegedly tried to bribe, was found guilty of simple misconduct.