A CHRISTMAS in exile.

This was how Thomasian whistleblower Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada sees his Christmas this year, nine months after emerging as star witness in the botched $329-billion National Broadband Network (NBN) deal between the government and Chinese firm ZTE.

Still under the care of the La Salle Brothers in Greenhills, San Juan, Lozada said he and his family may have to eat their noche buena in a “sanctuary with security personnel.”

“The difference is last Christmas, I was a free man. This year, I (will be celebrating Christmas) as an exile in my own country,” Lozada told the Varsitarian.

But despite the dramatic changes in his and his family’s situation as a result of his explosive testimony, Lozada said he was happy that “he finally found God” in “other people who were very willing to help us in these trying times.”

“I (and my family are) now living through the charity of others,” Lozada said, noting that his children are scholars in their respective schools. He asked not to name the schools where his children go to for security reasons.

As he continues his crusade for truth, Lozada wishes for understanding from his family “that their suffering and sacrifices will not be meaningless.”

Asked if he has any Christmas wish for the government, Lozada said he wants it to be “enlightened.”

“(I wish the government) may realize that corruption is un-christian, that it is the worst form of violence against the poor in terms of scale as it violates and condemns the rights of both the living and the unborn,” he said.

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Lozada also hopes the nation will have “the courage to act accordingly in the face of such brazen display of tyrannical power of their corrupt leadership.”

Lozada implicated First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and former Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos in the NBN-ZTE deal, claiming the two got millions in kickbacks for pushing the overpriced telecoms deal through a Chinese government loan.

The Senate investigation into the NBN-ZTE project has since given way to the probe into the alleged diversion of P728 million in fertilizer funds into the 2004 campaign kitty of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

On Bolante

Lozada had advised the newest witness on the Senate hot seat, former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante, through a letter to think about the “welfare of his family” now that they both are in a “similar situation.”

After three years on the run, Bolante was deported by the United States last October 28, finally facing lawmakers to answer allegations that he had masterminded the so-called fertilizer fund scam.

Lozada wrote the letter to Bolante prior to the latter’s appearance in the Senate as a gesture of “moral support.”

“I am asking you to please think about your children, please consider the legacy you are going to leave to them. Are you going to forever leave them as pariahs branded as children of a thief or as children of someone who did wrong and yet chose to serve his country in the end?” Lozada wrote in the letter.

As expected, however, Bolante cleared the President and denied any wrongdoing.

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Rotarian way

For his part, Dante Madriaga, another key witness on the NBN-ZTE scandal, advised Bolante to live the “Rotarian way of life.”

Bolante, Lozada, and Madriaga are all members of the Rotary Club, a civic organization known for the “Four-Way Test,” questions for what people “thinks, says, or do.”

Madriaga described Bolante, the former Makati Pasong Tamo district governor of the club, as a “caring governor.”

“He was a very good governor. (But now,) I do not know what happened to him. Nasusuka na ‘ko sa mga sinasabi niya,” Madriaga told the Varsitarian on the sidelines of the Senate inquiry last October 13, which Lozada also attended.

Senators have described Bolante’s testimony as “evasive,” with the former agriculture official saying during the public hearings that he merely distributed funds to local government officials and had no hand in implementation.

Lower-ranking agriculture officials have disputed this, claiming Bolante had even imposed upon them a particular supplier. Other witnesses said Bolante had profited from kickbacks.

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