Monday, October 22, 2007

JDV III joins calls for Arroyo's resignation

JDV III joins calls for Arroyo's resignation
ABS-CBN news 10/18/07

Days after expressing disenchantment with the leader he used to call "my president," businessman Jose "Joey" de Venecia III has joined calls for President Arroyo's resignation in the wake of allegations of bribery in her administration.

The son of Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. made the statement during a luncheon Thursday tendered by Senate Minority Aquilino Pimentel Jr. to honor the businessman's courage in exposing the alleged bribery, corruption and overprice in the ZTE-broadband deal.

"The easiest, but maybe not the softest, is for her to resign, but I don't see it happening," the younger de Venecia told ABS-CBN News correspondent Lynda Jumilla.

From the bribery-tainted ZTE-national broadband network deal to the Malacañang meeting where bags of cash were allegedly handed out to congressmen and local officials, de Venecia said it was clear Mrs. Arroyo knew all the alleged corruption going on and allowed these to happen.

He, however, said since resignation was next to impossible that the president's impeachment must be pursued.

The businessman said his father made a mistake in allowing a weak impeachment complaint to be referred to the House justice committee. He said it was something the speaker could and should correct.

"In the process he might lose the speakership but at least he goes down fighting. That may be his legacy at this point," said the businessman.

The younger de Venecia has accused the president's husband First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo of demanding him to back off from the government's negotiations with Chinese corporation ZTE.

Mr. Arroyo, however, denied the allegation, saying that it is not something that he would do to somebody he just met.

JDV denies
The elder de Venecia, meanwhile, merely laughed at reports tagging him as the suspect behind the controversies now hounding the Arroyo administration, particularly the alleged bribes given to some officials last week.

At the same time, the House chief shot down accusations made by Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno that the money given to congressmen and governors came from his office.

"I saw nothing. If I were involved, why would I do it at the palace? It would have been done elsewhere," de Venecia told ABS-CBN News correspondent Jing Castañeda, explaining his side regarding the alleged distribution of bribes at Malacañang on Thursday last week.

De Venecia said he has no reason to destroy his relationship with President Arroyo.

The Arroyo administration grabbed the headlines following reports that it allegedly distributed cash gifts to lawmakers last week.

Early this week, Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio and Bulacan Gov. Joselito Mendoza admitted receiving P500,000 in cash each stuffed in a paper bag after a governors' meeting in Malacañang.

Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante and Cebu City Rep. Antonio Cuenco admitted receiving money from Malacañang after news broke out about the controversy. Cuenco, however, retracted his statement later, saying he was "just kidding."