MALAYA: ‘Will you entrust your money to the thieves?’

By ANTHONY IAN CRUZ
Malaya
March 31, 2008

PRO-DEMOCRACY groups in Hong Kong yesterday warned investors that “corruption and murders taint their investments in the Philippines” and made true their vow to shame President Arroyo, calling her a “plunderer” and a “murderer” right outside the Conrad Hotel, venue of the 11th Credit Suisse Asia Investment Conference which she attended.

The HK Campaign for the Advancement of Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (HKCAHRPP) said local police attempted to place its members some 100 meters away from Conrad Hotel, but the residents successfully staged their protest right in front of the venue.

Jackie Hung, the group’s convenor, reminded investors “the experience of ZTE whose deal for a national broadband network in the Philippines has been recently exposed to be tainted with corruption.”

“Will you really entrust your money to thieves in high office?” Hung asked.

The Chinese firm ZTE Corp. was awarded early last year the government contract for a national broadband network project. Arroyo cancelled the alleged overpriced contract late last year amid allegations of payoffs and other anomalies involving government officials.

The group furnished media a copy of a letter addressed to Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang, urging him to review trade relations with the Arroyo government, citing corruption and human rights issues.

“The money of the Chinese and Hong Kong people must not be used to support a questionable government. It will only be utilized for self-interests at the expense of the Filipino people’s well-being,” Hung said.

Bruce van Voorhis, a member of the group, said international businessmen should not be deaf to the global outrage over the 901 extrajudicial executions, mostly perpetrated by the Arroyo administration.

“People continue to be killed and disappear with impunity,” he said.

He said that as commander in chief, Arroyo must be held accountable for the killings and abductions of militants.

Last week, the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy found the Philippines the most corrupt economy in Southeast Asia, netting a score of 9 out of a 10-point grading system.

US-based Human Rights Watch denounced the Arroyo government also last week over its failure to convict not even one soldier over the nearly a thousand extrajudicial executions and despite assurances the Philippines has made to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

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