Lozada files kidnap raps vs Atienza, Razon et al.

February 22, 2008







jun lozadaMANILA, Philippines — Citing a video showing an airport official making a “throat-slitting gesture” and the seizure of his passport, Senate witness Rodolfo Lozada Jr. filed Friday a complaint for kidnapping and attempted murder against Environment Secretary Lito Atienza, Philippine National Police Director General Avelino Razon and four security officers.Lozada alleged that his airport abduction by state agents on Feb. 5 upon his arrival from Hong Kong was intended to “permanently silence me” and leave no physical trace of him.

Accompanied by his lawyers and bodyguards, the former government consultant filed the complaint at the Department of Justice after snubbing a DOJ fact-finding hearing on his allegations of anomalies in the now-scrapped $329-million National Broadband Network (NBN) project.

Besides Atienza and Razon, the others named in the complaints were Assistant General Manager Angel Atutubo of the Manila International Airport Authority, police protection office director Chief Supt. Romeo Hilomen, Sr. Supt. Paul Mascariñas, aviation security agent Rodolfo Valeroso and several “John Does” and “Pedro Does.”

The complaint said the “Does” were with the Presidential Security Group and the Philippine National Police.

Lozada lawyer Theodore Te said the attempted murder complaint was based on the “throat-slitting gesture” Atutubo was seen allegedly making on video as he took Lozada out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Te said the footage was obtained from an airport security camera.

“Mr. Atutubo’s gesture clearly convinced me that what I initially thought was an attempt to kidnap me was much more malevolent,” Lozada said in his complaint, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer.

“Apparently, from the very start, they did not want to leave any traces of me. The throat-slitting gesture, together with the other facts and circumstances, clearly indicate that all the efforts made to take me from the airport were intended to permanently silence me.”

Thanks to the media

Lozada also said the respondents conspired in an attempt to murder him when they took him to several places after Atutubo made the gesture.

“The acts of Atutubo, Valeroso and the other respondents and the unidentified men in taking me from Naia to a place as far away as Dasmariñas, Cavite, together with the circumstances related above, indicate an intent to do me harm in a place where it would not attract too much attention,” he said.

Valeroso was among the men Lozada said seized him at the airport.

Another piece of evidence Lozada cited in his complaint was his passport, which he said was taken from him on his arrival and returned to him only on Thursday–without an immigration stamp to show that he had returned.

In his complaint, Lozada cited Atienza’s attempt to reassure him by saying the people who took him at the airport were “government men” and Razon’s role in setting up a security force supposedly to protect him on his arrival.

Razon has said Lozada and his family had sought police assistance for him–a claim the Lozadas later denied.

Fairy tale

Reacting to Lozada’s complaint, Razon said: “We will answer the charges and prove there was no attempted murder. We will submit evidence to support our stand.”

Atienza said his inclusion in the complaint was an opportunity for him to prove that Lozada’s allegations were a “self-glorified fairy tale.”

“This will give us all now … a chance to come out with the truth. If helping a man in need is kidnapping, then I don’t know what charity means,” Atienza said.

No whitewash

Lozada’s account of his abduction at the airport gave an extra twist to his central testimony at the Senate dealing with purported anomalies in the NBN deal with China’s ZTE Corp. supposedly involving President Macapagal-Arroyo’s husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, and former Commission on Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos Sr.

In a letter to the DOJ fact-finding panel to explain his absence at the NBN probe, Lozada said the investigation was a political proceeding.

“The DOJ’s job is to stop corruption, not whitewash it,” he said.

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