NBN-ZTE whistleblower Jun Lozada sentenced to 6-10 years in prison for graft

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) – Jun Lozada Jr., the whistleblower in the allegedly anomalous NBN-ZTE deal, was sentenced Tuesday to six-to-10 years in prison and meted a perpetual ban from holding public office for graft.

The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division ruled that Lozada – who was president and chief executive officer of the government-run Philippine Forest (PhilForest) Corporation from 2007 to 2008 – violated the anti-graft law when he granted a 6.6-hectare leasehold right to his brother, Jose Orlando, under the agency's Lupang Hinirang program.

"The prosecution was able to satisfactorily prove that accused Orlando Lozada was issued a Notice of Award despite the fact that he did not participate in the procedure for the pre-qualification, auction and award as laid out in the Terms of Reference," the Sandiganbayan said in its ruling.

The court also sentenced Jose Orlando to six-to-10 years in prison for his role in the deal.

The court said Jun Lozada also violated the law when he awarded lease contracts to Transforma Quinta, a private corporation in which he and his wife, Ma. Violeta, had been appointed to act for and in its behalf in certain financial transactions.

Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act" stipulates that government officials are prohibited from "giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence."

However, the Sandiganbayan acquitted Lozada of the graft charge of violating Section 3(h) of R.A. 3019, which bars public officials for having financial and pecuniary interest in any government-related transaction.

'Long-running nightmare'

Lozada said he was shocked by the Sandiganbayan's decision, having already prepared a statement in expectation of his acquittal, and will be filing an appeal.

"Para itong isang napakahabang bangungot," he said. "Napakahirap isipin na ganito pala talaga ang katotohan sa bayan natin. Yung mga magnanakaw, yung sinusumbong mo, yung nananakot ayun malaya, masaya. Kayong mga nagsusumikap lang naman maging tapat sa bayan, parang ako siguro gustong gawing ehemplo, na huwag tularan ng mga nasa gobyerno."

[Translation: This is like a long-running nightmare. It's so hard to think that this is the reality in our country today: the crooks you report to authorities go scott-free and are happy. I'm being made into an example – so that honest public servants will not speak out against corruption.]

Lozada said he hopes that truth and goodness in the government will still overcome evil.

NBN-ZTE deal whistleblower

Lozada was the star witness in the Senate investigation of the allegedly overpriced NBN-ZTE deal. He testified against former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and former Commission on Elections chair Benjamin Abalos, who allegedly used their influence to lobby for the broadband deal with China.

Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also faced graft and breach of ethical conduct in that case.

Lozada, an electronics and communications engineer, had served as technical advisor to former National Economic and Development Authority chairman Romulo Neri.

CNN Philippines Digital Producer VJ Bacungan contributed to this report.