February 12, 2008 – The University is rallying behind Rodolfo Noel “Jun” Lozada Jr., the Thomasian whistleblower in a corruption-laden government contract being investigated by lawmakers, calling for prayers for the Engineering alumnus whose testimony has earned the support of various sectors of society.

UST’s Office for Public Affairs appealed to all Thomasians to offer “special prayers” for Lozada last February 8, a day after he appeared in public for the first time to reveal that the state project to connect government offices through a “broadband” network had been overpriced by as much as $130 million to allow for kickbacks.

Lozada, who has quit his post as president of government-owned Philippine Forest Corp., had served informally as technical consultant to the $329-million National Broadband Network project that was to be loaned from the Chinese government. The deal with Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE Corp. was scrapped last year amid controversy.

Lozada told a Senate investigation that former Commission on Elections chief Benjamin Abalos Sr., who brokered the deal with the Chinese, wanted the $130 million “preserved,” and that First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo was working to have the project approved. He also said he was abducted by government agents upon returning to Manila last February 5 from Hong Kong, where he hid for a few days, at first deciding to avoid speaking against the government.

The former executive of multinational telecommunications firm Alcatel said he eventually chose to tell the truth after grappling with his conscience and out of love of country, adding that he had no political motives. “Ang dasal ko lang sana maintindihan ninyo ang dusang dinadanas ng pamilya ko ngayon… sana matutunan na natin na ang salitang Pilipino ay hindi lang tumutukoy sa isang pamilya. Ang salitang Pilipino ay tumutukoy sa isang bansa, isang bansang Pilipino,” Lozada said.

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Lozada, who finished electronics and communications engineering at UST in 1984, was one of the alumni awarded by the Faculty of Engineering during its centennial celebration last December.

Writing in the Philippine Daily Inquirer last February 11, columnist Manuel L. Quezon III praised Lozada’s courage, citing his UST roots: “There are two things about Lozada that will go far, I think, in understanding the distinctions he’s tried to make, and his eventual decision to hold the line once he felt things had gone too far. The first is that he is proud of being a Thomasian; he quotes Thomas Aquinas widely. The second is he is a passionate student of Jose Rizal.”

“To illustrate. The whole country knows he said, ‘Thomas Aquinas said the worst form of corruption is the corruption of the best.’ But he also shared this story: ‘Rizal asked his brother Paciano, ‘Did God make us poor and silent, or we were so misgoverned we ended up that way?’ Paciano couldn’t answer. Two years later, Rizal wrote to Paciano, and said, ‘In my travels abroad I have the answer: We didn’t get the right kind of government from our leaders.’”

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has called for “communal action” in light of Lozada’s revelations, saying the time has come for people to unite and liberate the country that has long been “hostage to scandalous and shady government deals.”

Expressing his personal opinion, Acting UST Rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P. told the Varsitarian that Lozada deserves the support of the Thomasian community.

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“Personally – I’m not speaking on behalf of the University or (as) rector of the University – we have to support him,” he said. “We should pray for him to be able to really tell the truth because you know sometimes, we are so filled with hope (with regard to telling) the truth but eventually after encountering a lot of difficulties or threats against (us) and (our) family, sometimes (we) change (our) statements. We have to pray for (Lozada’s) safety and for his strength and courage to speak (on) what he thinks is true.” John Constantine G. Cordon

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