NEWS: Way Kurat: “I’m willing to face the SP” “But Joecab should also go there”

july 14

Compostela Valley Congressman Manuel “Way Kurat” Zamora (1st District) has accepted the challenge of former Gov. Jose “Joecab” Caballero saying that he is very much willing to go to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to shed light about what he can remember during the meeting with Chinese-speaking investors and with President Arroyo herself during her visit to Compostela town last July 2006.

In that presidential visit, the President announced at Zamora’s congressional office that she was bringing with her investors of Chinese firm ZTE Corp interested to invest in mining ventures in the province.

In an interview over the weekend, Cong. Zamora said that Caballero was right in saying that the President came to visit her congressional office and was also right for passing the buck of the issue to the congressman but “with all respect to him, Caballero should also go there” referring to the SP which moved last week to conduct a legislative inquiry on the reported $1-billion mining project of ZTE Corp to Diwalwal.

Zamora suggested that since he is on the thick of marathon budget hearings at press time until October 11 and onwards Caballero should first face the SP so that his statements “could be put on the record” and “after that, file a motion for me to appear”.

“I’m willing to appear but I could not just be available due to the marathon hearings,” Zamora said.

Zamora said that during the presidential visit there was indeed a meeting that occurred inside his congressional office with the President and Chinese-speaking officials with their interpreters.

But, he said, he did not know what were the particular companies the Chinese-speaking visitors were representing for.

He said he was not the only the one who knew what transpired during the meeting since former 2nd District Cong. Prospero Amatong and all the mayors were also there except Monkayo Mayor Manuel “Junjun” Brillantes.

Caballero, then governor at that time, was not invited to attend in Compostela visit of Arroyo but reports said that he and Brillantes had also met with ZTE investors at Marco Polo Hotel during the visit.

Caballero, in separate interview, denied he met with ZTE officials saying they were only having their lunch with Mayor Brillantes at the hotel while the President graced for the launching of the congressman’s earthworm and nursery project at his congressional office.

Currently, the ZTE Corp is embroiled anew of another controversy about its award of mining rights over 8,000 hectares of mineral reservation in Diwalwal a year after the firm figured in the anomalous NBN deal. The firm was accused of giving millions of bribe money to national officials including the President to bag the multi-billion NBN contract.

For its legislative probe, the SP entasked last week its environment committee to call Caballero, Finance Secretary Peter Favila, DENR Sec. Lito Atienza, former DENR Sec. Michael Defensor and others to shed light on the report of $1-billion deal of the ZTE Corp. for the mining rights over Diwalwal which the SP feared could trigger unease among Diwalwal miners if the report is not clarified.

The SP acted on following privilege speech of Boardmember Dexter Lopoz who notified his colleagues two weeks ago about the deal as first hinted by an editorial of the Philippine Star before the new ZTE controversy hit the current headlines.

Boardmember Neri Barte joined with Lopoz last week calling for legislative probe on ZTE’s Diwalwal deal which got the SP nod. (Cha Monforte/Rural Urban News)

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