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Aquino won't allow revival of controversial NBN-ZTE deal

(Updated 9:23 p.m.) Although the country needs a nationwide broadband network, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III said on Monday he will not allow the revival of the controversial multi-million dollar national broadband network deal with China’s ZTE Corp. that the Philippine government entered into in 2007. “Reviving something similar to the ZTE, no way," the President said in an interview with reporters.
The ZTE-NBN controversy timeline
June 5, 2006: A Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of Philippines-China Economic Partnership was executed between the governments of the Philippines and China. NEDA Secretary Romulo L. Neri and DTI Secretary Peter B. Favila represented and the People's Republic of China, represented by Commerce Minister Bo Xilai. April 2007: Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza and ZTE Corp. Vice President Yu Yong entered into a US$ 329.5 million contract for a national broadband network (NBN) that will improve government communications capabilities. August 29, 2007: Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla disclosed in a privilege speech that COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos met with ZTE officials in China weeks before April 2007, apparently to broker for the NBN project: "Apparently, Chairman Abalos' unofficial trips to China courtesy of ZTE Corporation and his golf games with the officers of ZTE Corporation can hardly be characterized as just friendly and totally innocuous. He was a man on a mission. Could the mission be the US $329 million NBN project?" Padilla noted that there were two other private entities which signified their intention to build the NBN for the government. The project cost in these private companies' proposals were cheaper than ZTE's. [Read more.]
Aquino said the government, through the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), is will implement a nationwide broadband network project using existing Internet connections in the country. “Utilizing what we do already have to meet the needs and that is currently being assessed and the plan is being drawn up by DOST," he said, but did not give further details. Aquino said the DOST believes the ZTE project was wrong because the system would have been obsolete by the time it was set up. “The DOST is inventorying presently what we do have as the basis for the broadband network. Now, if there is a need to engage the telecommunication companies, which was my position, they are already ready as far as a broadband is concerned," he said. National broadband controversy The Philippine National Broadband Network controversy (also known as the NBN/ZTE deal) involved allegations of corruption in the awarding of a US$329 million construction contract to Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE for the proposed government-managed National Broadband Network (NBN). The contract with ZTE was signed on April 20, 2007 in Hainan, China. After accusations of irregularities surfaced, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cancelled the National Broadband Network (NBN) project in October 2007. Among the high-profile personalities linked to the supposed anomaly was then-Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr., who resigned at the height of the controversy; then-National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chief Romulo Neri; and Mrs. Arroyo’s husband, Jose Miguel “Mike" Arroyo. On July 14, 2008, the Supreme Court dismissed all three petitions questioning the constitutionality of the national broadband deal, saying the petitions became moot when Arroyo cancelled the project. Sen. Panfilo Lacson last week said the Senate may reopen its investigation on the ZTE-NBN controversy. - VVP, GMA News