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Group cites more reasons to scrap ZTE deal in SC petition

(Updated 5:22 p.m.) Another petition was filed before the Supreme Court on Friday for the nullification of the government’s controversial contract with China’s ZTE Corp. for the junking of the $329.48-million national broadband network (NBN) project. In an 81-page petition, the Lawyers and Advocates for Accountability, Transparency, Integrity and Good Governance (Latigo) asked the High Court to order the government to conduct a new public bidding for the NBN project. The group invoked the Supreme Court’s "judicial supremacy" to intervene in the implementation of the project, in light of allegations that high executive officials brokered the contract for ZTE Corp. and even allegedly offered millions to bribe key personalities in the project. In a telephone interview with GMANews.TV, lawyer Galileo Angeles, the group’s legal counsel and spokesman, said the new petition cites more grounds for the nullification of the contract, including violations to the Constitutional provision on the use of treasury funds and the Official Development Assistance (ODA) Law. The group said the Government Procurement Reform Act, Build-Operate-and-Transfer Law, Public Telecommunications Policy Act, Foreign Borrowings Law, Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and Civil Code were violated. According to the group, government committed a lot worse when it refused to be transparent about the awarding of the contract and its content, thus curtailing the citizens's right to information. "This is a comprehensive petition, as we have included the elements that we have heard during the hearings (on the ZTE contract). We have included other bases for the nullification including the ODA Law, and the Constitutional provision which requires an appropriation law for the use of funds from the government’s treasury," Angeles said. "Basically, we are invoking the Supreme Court’s judicial supremacy to look into the legality of the DOTC-ZTE contract. We are also asking the SC to prohibit the implementation and the nullification of the contract," he added. On September 11, the SC issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the implementation of the ZTE contract based on the petitions of Iloilo Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico and Amsterdam Holdings, Inc. In response to this order, ZTE lawyers on Thursday filed an urgent omnibus motion before the SC to ask the High Court to lift the TRO, as they questioned Suplico’s legal personality in filing for the deal’s nullification. ZTE lawyers also said Suplico failed to prove his claim that the deal would bring grave injustice and irreparable injury to the Filipino people. - GMANews.TV