God save the Philippines. If the Filipino people as a whole is likened to a woman , the rape never stopped...only the rapists were changed. 'Mike Arroyo is NBN deal mystery man' Jose "Joey" de Venecia III, son of Speaker Jose de Venecia, on Tuesday named Jose Miguel Arroyo, spouse of President Arroyo, as the "mystery man" who told him to back off from the allegedly overpriced national broadband network (NBN) deal between the Philippine government and China's ZTE Corp. "I have previously mentioned to reveal the identity of the mystery man under oath and in the proper forum. It is with a heavy heart that I cannot deny that it was First Gentleman Mike Arroyo," de Venecia said in his testimony before the Senate blue ribbon committee. De Venecia, whose company Amsterdam Holdings Inc. submitted a proposal for the project, said Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr. also wiretapped his phone and threatened him after he refused to back off from the $329 million project. De Venecia said he met the President's husband at a reconciliatory meeting" with Abalos at the Wack-Wack golf court in Mandaluyong City sometime mid-March. He said Arroyo pointed a finger at his face and told him to "back off." He said he tried to explain the economic benefits of AHI's proposal but Arroyo left and went to the other side of the room. "He refused to listen, he stood up and left," he said. De Venecia's revelations came after he hinted in several television interviews that a "mystery man" had helped convince him to back off from the NBN project. The NBN project aims to build a nationwide hi-tech telecommunications backbone that will link the telephone, cellular and Internet services of all government offices. In his testimony, De Venecia said the $329 million broadband deal was "ridiculously overpriced" by as much as $130 million after Abalos asked for various kickbacks and advances for the project. He added that he is no longer interested in pursuing the project after ZTE cornered the contract. "Many have said that Im only sourgraping because my company and I lost the project. If this deal goes through it is not only my loss but the loss of the entire Filipino people. That is what I seek to prevent," he said. Senate eyes Mike A testimony Senators said they might invite Mr. Arroyo to appear before the inquiry and explain his side before the upper chamber. Arroyo left the country on Monday, a day before the Senate started its inquiry on the NBN contract. Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. suggested that people who "fly away" a day before the Senate inquiry should instead be issued a subpoena. "Some persons fly away from the territory of this country... which is an admission of guilt. [This] is an indication that they will not honor an invitation so I would suggest to issue subpoena directly to people of this nature," Pimentel said. The committee chairman, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, suggested that the senators agree on the issue during a forum after other senators, including Sen. Joker Arroyo, objected to Pimentel's motion. Arroyo reminded his colleagues that the Supreme Court had cautioned the Senate to be careful and follow its own rules. He said the existing rule says an invitation should be issued first before a subpoena. "If despite the subpoena, the witness does not appear, then we can vote. We can issue a contempt citation. These are the three steps that we cannot dispense with," Arroyo said. Sen. Francis Escudero asked the Senate Blue-Ribbon Committee to summon government officials and other personalities identified in de Venecia's affidavit. Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza, Trade Secretary Peter Favila and Romulo Neri, former National Economic Development Authority head, had been invited to the inquiry but failed to attend the hearing. They cited the rule on subjudice that bars anyone from discussing the merits of an ongoing case outside the courtroom. Escudero said the excuse given by the Cabinet secretaries is unacceptable. Subjudice cannot be invoked as an excuse not to attend the proceedings of these honorable committees. Our rules are clear on the matter. The fact that there is a pending case before any courts - administrative, civil or criminal is not an excuse or reason for us not to hear and conduct an inquiry on the matter, he said. He said the Senate should also summon other persons mentioned in de Venecia's affidavit including Ruben Reyes, a businessman; Jimmy Paz, Abalos's chief of staff; former police director Quirino dela Torre, and a certain Leo San Miguel. Wiretaps and death threats In his testimony, De Venecia said he rejected a $10 million bribe from Abalos last December if he allowed ZTE to bag the broadband contract. The businessman said Abalos even namedropped Mrs. Arroyo and Speaker de Venecia as two beneficiaries of kickbacks in the overpriced contract. "I was sure that my president, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and my father speaker Joe de Venecia were unaware of the intricate technological details of the NBN project and could not stomach the fact that my President and my Speaker would be dragged into a transaction that required undisclosed advances and under the table kickbacks to sweeten the deal," he said. He said Abalos disclosed that he had de Venecia's cell phone bugged and even threatened to have him killed. "When my father suggested the rescission of the ZTE deal it was also COMELEC chairman Abalos who refused and said, and I quote 'Then Joey will win.' It was then that he threatened my life," de Venecia said. He added that Abalos also threatened to Philippine Star columnist Jarius Bondoc for informing the public of his wrongdoings. Bondoc said it was de Venecia who told him of the death threat from Abalos. He said he immediately called up the Speaker who told him to forget about the threat. Mrs. Arroyo on Tuesday ordered Mendoza to appear before the Supreme Court to explain details of the $329-million NBN deal between the government and China's ZTE Corp. "Iniatas ko kay Secretary Leandro Mendoza ng DOTC na humarap at magpaliwanag sa Korte Supreme hinggil sa kaso ng NBN. Walang pamumulitika at batay sa ebidensya ang proseso ng hukuman (I ordered Secretary Leandro Mendoza of the DOTC to explain and face before the Supreme Court the NBN case. The court's process is not political and is based on evidence)," Mrs. Arroyo said in her opening speech during the National Economic and Development Authority board meeting at Malacañang. She said the government is ready to work with the courts and the Office of the Ombudsman to determine if violations were committed by officials involved in the contract. The Supreme Court has released a temporary restraining order on the NBN contract after Iloilo Rep. Rolex Suplico and AHI filed separate petitions asking the court to junk the deal.