ZTE Corp. Asks SC to Lift TRO; Chinese Embassy Denounces Miriam; She Apologizes ZTE Says Suplico Has No Legal Right to File Case

Manila Bulletin, September 28, 2007 | Go to article overview

ZTE Corp. Asks SC to Lift TRO; Chinese Embassy Denounces Miriam; She Apologizes ZTE Says Suplico Has No Legal Right to File Case


Byline: REY G. PANALIGAN

The Supreme Court (SC) was asked yesterday by the ZTE Corporation of China to lift the temporary restraining order (TRO) it had issued against the implementation of the firm's $ 329.5-million contract with the Philippine government for a national broadband network (NBN) project.

In an urgent motion, ZTE also asked the SC that if the TRO is not lifted, a $ 2.9-million bond should be filed by Iloilo Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico, who filed the first case against the implementation of the contract, to answer for whatever damages the telecommunications firm may incur.

The other case was filed by Amsterdam Holdings, Inc. (AHI) and its president Nathaniel Sauz. Their case was ordered consolidated with that of Suplico.

The NBN is a proposed government telecommunications infrastructure to deliver voice, data, and Internet services. AHI had submitted its own version called the "Orion Network."

The NBN contract and allegations of irregularities are now being looked into by the Senate.

According to ZTE, Suplico has no clear legal right to sue as a taxpayer and seek the non-implementation of the NBN contract because there is no disbursement of public funds on the part of the government.

It said that Suplico also failed to show "any threat, much less the existence of grave injustice or irreparable injury, which are indispensable in granting a TRO. On the contrary, ZTE said, "it will be the one that will suffer grave and irreparable damage if the TRO is not lifted."

At the same time, ZTE said that Suplico cannot invoke the right to information in his petition because he did not assert his right by requesting either the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) or ZTE for a copy of the supply contract for the NBN project.

"Notably, while the State recognizes its citizens' right to information and access to such information, as well as its correlative duty to provide such information, this provision does not give the public, as Suplico suggests, unbridled right and unhampered access to official records, documents, and papers," ZTE said.

"Under the Constitution, access to official records, papers, etc., is subject to limitations as may be provided by law," it said.

The TRO on the implementation of the NBN project was issued by the SC last Sept. 11. The SC had also granted the plea of ZTE to file its comment to Suplico's petition until today, Sept. 28.

In his petition, Suplico asked the SC to declare as unconstitutional the DoTC-ZTE contract for allegedly violating existing laws and jurisprudence and for being inconsistent with government policies on public transparency, accountability, and self-reliance.

AHI and Sauz, on the other hand, said that the denial by the government, through the DoTC and CICT, to divulge the terms and conditions of the ZTE contract violates their right to information on a matter of public interest. …

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