Abalos’s resignation heightens pressure on Neri, First Couple to tell the truth on NBN-ZTE scam

Benjamin Abalos has resigned as chair of the Commission on Elections but should it end the ruckus over the National Broadband Network-ZTE contract? No.

The Ombudsman is duty bound to file all the appropriate criminal cases against him on his involvement in two fraud-marred elections, on the scandal regarding poll modernization and finally on the NBN-ZTE bribery and other acts of malfeasance attributed to him. The filing of charges is demanded by the people who are incensed by the complete lack of a sense of accountability and delicadeza among high officials of government, and will also give Abalos his right to be heard and to defend himself.

Abalos is now pressured to speak out, lest he be dubbed the ultimate fallguy in the NBN-ZTE snafu. He can only redeem himself if he stops protecting President Arroyo and the First Gentleman whose names have cropped up in the ongoing Senate probe. Speaking out on the First Couple’s roles will redeem him in the eyes of the nation, at least politically, and will help the nation end a very long serial nightmare. He will be another Chavit Singson, but hopefully not as self-righteous and vindictive.

Of course, the Ombudsman has been transparent in its kid-glove treatment of Abalos viz. Comelec modernization scam, but the public uproar should make its mind on the matter. I expect Plunderwatch or some other group to press charges against Abalos before the Ombudsman if the latter refuses to act motu proprio. Which again speaks volumes about the oft-repeated pleading that we give government a chance in combating corruption and which should provide social-democrats a lesson in mass struggles to compel government to act.

Now, the focus in the hearings completely shifts to Romulo Neri who is widely perceived to be protecting the First Couple from unwanted publicity and from constitutional oversight. There is simply no guarantee that the Executive will show its dirty linen in public and in the Senate, we I expect the issue to be settled at Padre Faura. The claim of executive privilege, which methinks is a false and untenable one, will have to give way to truth-telling and fact-finding. If Neri remains stubborn on advice of Palace lawyers and spin doctors, there will be huge and mind-bending pressure to have the First Gentleman appear before Senate to explaining his role in the controversy.

Meanwhile, the nation looks on, intently and vigilantly. Time is ticking again on the Arroyo administration. If Mrs. Arroyo thinks Abalos’s resignation favors her survival, she must think again. Abalos did not want to be called a fallguy, but he definitely is one by resigning and the people won’t accept any more apologies for the government not presenting the whole truth and nothing but the truth in this attempt to submerge us in a US$329-million project.

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