Lagman to ex-DICT chief Salalima: Tell all about ‘corrupt pressures.’ Is your resignation linked to broadband project?

September 26, 2017 - 3:20 PM
File photo of resigned DICT chief Rodolfo Salalima

MANILA, Philippines — Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman is urging his province-mate Rodolfo Salalima to explain in detail the reasons why he had decided to quit the Department of Information and Communications Technology and whether his resignation had something to do with the DICT’s P77.9-billion national broadband project.

Lagman said nine days before news broke out that Salalima had submitted his resignation letter to Malacañang, the DICT chief told him of his intention to step down.

The Liberal Party lawmaker said this happened last September 12 when Salalima, after the termination of the House plenary consideration of the budget for the DICT, approached him in the session hall “and told me he was resigning because he ‘could not anymore bear the pressure’ on him.”

“I urge Salalima to disclose more thoroughly how, when and who exerted corrupt pressures and interferences on him,” said Lagman in a statement issued Tuesday, Sept. 26.

“The former DICT secretary must also reveal whether the bidding of the national broadband project was a subject of the fraudulent interference,” he added.

A day after Malacañang announced last Sept. 21 the resignation of Salalima, a former San Beda classmate of President Rodrigo Duterte, the resigned DICT chief told media that he had decided to leave the agency last Sept. 4 while he was driving home and wrote his resignation letter the following day.

A portion of Salalima’s letter addressed to Duterte read, “I accepted that this department shall have no corruption, because that is the President’s commandment to all of us. I rejected favors. I rejected and opposed corruption in this government…and this is what I meant. I have to resign.”

However, the letter did not identify who were offering favors to whom and what corrupt moves or activities Salalima disapproved of while he was DICT chief.

Reports from unidentified DICT insiders swirled that the alleged pressures and interventions faced by Salalima included those that came from certain suppliers in the DICT’s national broadband project.

The project aims to accelerate the deployment of fiber optic cables and wireless technologies, and improve the overall internet speed and affordability all over the country, particularly in remote areas, according to the DICT.

A similar project was supposed to have been implemented by the government 10 years ago under the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

However, the $329-million national broadband network plan with China’s Zhong Xing Telecommunication Equipment Company Ltd. was scrapped by Arroyo in October 2007 following corruption allegations that were linked to then Commission on Elections chief Benjamin Abalos and First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo.