IN their apparent haste to “secure” electronics and communications engineer Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. on February 5, lawmen belonging to the Police Security and Protection Office (PSPO) used their personal cars in “escorting” him around Laguna and Metro Manila.

But the question remains: What is a high-ranking police official doing with a multi-million Volkswagen Touareg while on official mission to secure a “simpleng probinsiyanong Intsik” (simple Chinese man from the province)?”

Volkswagen Touareg 2007 edition [photo from autoreview.belproject.com]

The 2007 Volkswagen Touareg SUV

This was one of the questions that had to be fielded by Senior Supt. Paul Mascariñas, the deputy chief of the PSPO in yesterday’s Senate hearing.

Senator Panfilo Lacson revealed that Mascariñas’s black Volkswagen Touareg is owned by a certain Eric Estomata who lives in Tomas Morato, based on records the lawmaker secured from the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

Another vehicle that figured in Lozada’s unwanted tour of Laguna and Metro Manila was a white Toyota Fortuner registered to a certain Marciano and Mark Dennis Calibana of Tabang, Plaridel, Bulacan. Lozada was made to ride a white Toyota Altis, which, while sporting a civilian-looking plate number, is actually known to lawmen as a government security vehicle.

A Volkswagen Touareg can cost upwards of P2.7 million. Only one showroom, based in Makati, offers this brand and make. Many buy it through the so-called “gray market,” or private importers. Asked to explain his choice of vehicle that day, Mascariñas said the imported car was “lent” to him by a “friend.”

“As much as possible, we discourage the use of private cars in our operations,” says Gilbert San Diego, an investigator at the National Police Commission (Napolcom), which has administrative control and operational supervision over the Philippine National Police (PNP). He admits some lawmen do borrow or use their personal vehicles while on duty, but the practice is discouraged when they join operations.

A police source says Mascariñas’s use of the borrowed car is one of several indications that the grant of “security escorts” to Lozada was hurriedly made. The source says requests for security usually take one or two weeks to be approved, since the threat and the protection entailed are assessed before PSPO men are allowed to be deployed.

While Lozada’s security detail was ordered by PNP chief Avelino Razon himself, the source says the use of the lawmen’s private vehicles, borrowed or not, shows that the mission was really unplanned. Had there been time to plan, the source says a vehicle from the Traffic Management Group (TMG) could have been tapped for the purpose, especially since it was ordered by the PNP chief himself.

There are also questions being raised as to why the PSPO was tapped for the job. The PSPO has some 1,500 men. Created in 1991, it is tasked mainly to provide security for the Vice President, senators, congressmen and diplomats, and to support the Presidential Security Group (PSG) in protecting members of the First Family. While the PSPO also provides protection to private individuals, these are mostly people of high social pedigree. The source says the Aviation Security Group or the Special Action Force could have been the more logical choice for Lozada’s security detail.

The source said the flurry of activities, which set aside the PSPO’s standard procedures, shows how important Lozada was to those who were behind the airport operation. “It is very obvious that the processing of the request for security was expedited. You will see the malice and questionable purpose there,” said the source.

24 Responses to A ‘security detail’ and a ‘borrowed’ million-peso car

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Pipe

February 12th, 2008 at 10:35 pm

[OT: Guys, I know that Lozada used the term "intsik" to refer to himself but I should give you the heads-up that the term is viewed as derogatory in some Tsinoy circles.]

I… really don’t see why the PSPO had to borrow such an ostentatious car. It smacks of grandstanding but… for what audience? I mean, putting aside for a moment whether it was an abduction or not, I doubt Lozada would really care what kind of car they used, except if it had a big sign that said “bulletproof.”

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jcc

February 12th, 2008 at 11:58 pm

WHAT A PITY;

I am a trial lawyer in the Philippines for 19 years and if you have that period of time interacting with witnesses in court, you can easily develop the knack of seizing up whether a witness is performing an act or telling the truth.

I can say that Mr. Jun Lozada’s testimony in the senate was not forthright and not spontaneous; and the sudden change in the tone and the intonation of some of his answers reflected that those questions had been actually given to him before the hearing, specially those questions coming from Senator Villar and Senator Escudero, but I cannot say that he was entirely lying.

Mr Lozada acted like a consummate Chinese businessman and looked at his encounter with the members of the Senate purely on a “profit-loss” proposition. That he decided to testify in the Senate because of some sense of patriotism is pure baloney, or hogwash as you can call it more appropriately.

If his testimony becomes a pivotal point in bringing down the administration of GMA, he becomes the next NEDA Director of the next administration and if not, he could become a big political figure in Bicol. The Bicolano’s patented style of creating some media frenzy by creating trouble then run for elective position after that is reminiscent of the Gregorio Honasan and Antonio Trillanes capers.

That he is a fraud would not matter anyway because the electorate does not know how to distinguish the villain from the heroes.

But let us examine Mr. Lozada more closely. He is agreeable that Chairman Abalos takes only $65 million in kickback in the ZTE project because according to him “hindi masyadong malaki ang bukol”. He was actually telling us that the bigger the “bukol” the chances that “bukol” being noticed by the public is great, but the $65 million may not be transparent to the public and therefore they can get away with it. Mr. Lozada is not agreeable to grand “thievery” because the public will notice it, he was agreeable only to moderate thievery so they can continue robbing the people little by little without being noticed.

And where did Mr. Lozada get the idea that a $65 million kickback is only a “small bukol? Jeeeeh!! , to use my daughter’s expression. Or was he not agreeable with the $130 million kickback for Chairman Abalos because the “profit” for his friend, Joey De Venecia would be jeopardized?

And Mr. Lozada was the perfect con artist with regards to small thievery. His “mea culpa” in the Senate does nothing to improve his credibility. He thought that he could not outsmart Senator Santiago and thus admitted that he has his own share of guilt too, but not in proportion of an NBA League, but only on an “intramural” category. He was consistent in his position that robbing the Philippine treasury little by little will be less risky and unnoticeable and more profitable in the end because “hindi mabubuking”.

I was hoping that Senator Santiago would follow-up the question about the P700,000.00 cost of 15 goats from Australia which was imported by Mr. Lozada’s company, to find out if the imported goat could feed on local grass with the question why did it take him to import 15 goats at that price when they can get only one or two if the objective is to find out if the “mestiso” goat can feed on local grass.

By the way, Senator Santiago has achieved something which the dirty department of the military had failed to achieve. She was able to put a nail on Lozada’s coffin without bloodletting. The poor guy is dead as far as credibility and honor is concerned to those who really seek for the truth, but for the demagogue like Mr. Lozada and the millions of our “kababayan”, he is a symbol of honesty and good governance… What a pity.

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ryebosco

February 13th, 2008 at 12:09 am

That Volkswagen costs $75,000 (U.S. Dollars)? Who the hell has that kind of money here in the Philippines:

1. A decent, rich and honest Filipino.
2. An immoral, rich Filipino thief.

I know there aren’t that many Filipinos who are rich, decent and honest. So that Volkswagen must be owned by a rich/corrupt Filipino. I can always tell just by looking at how a person looks, how a person acts, what a person wears and what a person drives if he/she is a decent person. Watching the senate hearing just makes me vomit–MOSTLY THIEVES.

In the Philippines where the majority of the people are suffering, is it even appropriate to drive a Ferrari, a BMW Z-roadster and a $75,000 USD Volkswagen? Especially when the person driving obviously could not have afforded to buy such a car–legally. What amazes me is the way the common Filipino reacts when he/she sees a car drive by or park in front of them. Their reaction is one of awe and starstruck:

“Oh my God, si Gov. Oh my god, si mayor. Oh my God, si Rep. Oh my God, si Senator. Oh my God, si Secretary. Oh my God, artista, ang puti niya. Oh my God, presidente ng bangko ‘yan. Teka, magpapa-autograph muna ako. Naks, ang ganda ng coche…mahal siguro ‘yan.”

The questions the common Filipino should be asking do not even cross their minds, “Where the hell did he/she get the money to buy that car, how could they even afford it?” Instead, the common Filipino with a big smile tries to visually pierce through the window in order to figure out who the big shot is so they can bow and kiss their asses.

I read an article about Davao’s death squad. I hope the death squad spreads all over the Philippines. Would be nice if the corrupt were annihilated, starting in Manila.

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jimpot

February 13th, 2008 at 1:26 am

People in the Phillipines so ignorant even thou most u are all Profesional… what is the irs doing??????IRS should step up and ungkatin lahat ang mga my pera…AUDIT lahat ang mga di kapakapaniwalang mga pera nila like this Danny Tamayo From Pattao,Buguey Cagayan…… Next thing u know he’s name spreadout like a baloon all u can hearsay in the street is DT giving away millions of money just for him tobe known in Cagayan Valley…. i heard that MR.Danny Tamayo saying he has more money than Mr.Juan Ponce Enrile will see…….IRS don’t know how important they are,or they just being blind by the Government Curruption in which i bet they probally never have audit or know who is the most succesfull legal bussines men in the Phillipines right now….. To MR Lozada ur RIght all the way for me u as a mediator for the transaction alway get commision….so dont’ put any blame on him,, instead its all into Mr Abalos itself for asking such amount of money to ask for and for MR Lozada to present what MR Abalos want as a commision…Blame it all to Mr. Abalos for asking those amount of money that are not incalculable, just to make it fair for MR.Lozada Asked Abalos $65 (maybe)but MR Abalos wanted $130 so he himself call FG…..Gusto po ni MR.Abalos solohin kasi mga paalis nasya sa posisyon, never any hearsay how much MR.Lozada is getting,in that u can tell he’s not in for money…. like he said just doing good bussines to help the economia but money talk first,,, he’s gonna get money in both ways anyway one from NERI and from ZTE………To much money circulating in Pinas that the INTERNAL REVENUE does’nt know were this money came from INTERNAL REVENUE OF THE PHILLIPINES WAKE THE UP…………………..STEP UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Kabayan

February 13th, 2008 at 10:16 am

To pcij,

Out of topic, perhaps you can put a blog topic regarding the revival from the grave of Charter Change issue. I have posted this warning before in several blogsites that this would be forced through as one of the ways to install a Parliamentary form of government with no term limits for the Parliament Member and its Prime Minister. Now it is coming true. We of course know who they intend to put in as a Prime Minister for life.

Incidentally I have noticed that some of the usual haunts of oppositionists in several blogsites are down or filter clients with oppositionist views. It started from the Inquirer blog (during the time of JDVs ouster) and now I am unable to access Manuel Quezon’s and Ellen Tordesillas’ blogsites. Perhaps it could be because of the web traffic, my paranoia, or maybe it could be that the Palace hackers are hard at work targeting blogsites or bloggers they consider as threats in cyberspace.

It might be true or it might not, but could be worth looking into. Just giving you the heads-up for the possibility that your site too might be up for cyber-targeting.

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Pipe

February 13th, 2008 at 10:40 am

@jcc – Just have to say, I don’t think its fair to generalize that the “consummate Chinese businessman” would view things solely from a “profit – loss” perspective.

That being said, I don’t think that allegations of past misdeeds will have any real effect on either Lozada’s electability (not sure if that’s a word but oh well) or credibility with the public.

As far as electability is concerned, voters have never really seemed to care much about past misdeed, whether admitted or alleged – the Senate and Congress should provide plenty of examples.

As far as credibility is concerned – it seems that what determines whether or not most people believe Lozada is whether they believe GMA/FG/Abalos are corrupt or not. If you’ve made up your mind about the administration, any issues brought up about Lozada’s past actions seem to fade into irrelevance.

@ryebosco – Wish I had your deductive abilities… but beware what they say about books and their covers. :)

The problem with death squads is that they are rarely answerable to anyone but themselves – and the innocent won’t get a chance to prove their innocence before they get a bullet to the head. The judicial system may be flawed and cumbersome, but the alternative is chaos and the realm of “Might is Right.”

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tambuli

February 13th, 2008 at 1:34 pm

sloppy work, that’s why they are in a mess, very typical of our government nowadays. It seems that they really have no regard for the public’s sensibilities, as if everything they do will be accepted hook line and sinker. WHAT A PITY

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tambuli

February 13th, 2008 at 1:37 pm

sloppy work, that describes best what the police did in mr. lozada’s case, so much for police inteligence. that’s why there are in mess. very typical of our government in handling sensitive situations. they have very little regard for the public’s sensibilities, as if everything they can diss out will be accepted hook line and sinker. WHAT A PITY

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jcc

February 14th, 2008 at 6:07 am

Pipe,

My conclusion is that Mr. Lozada, though he has a zero credibility from my perspective, will be seen by many as the symbol of honesty and good governance, and therefore will be electable to office. This is the “profit” side of the equation.

How would one approach the Senate inquiry by a consummate Chinese businessman? Grief-stricken or call of conscience? The profit-loss ledger to me is more appealing. If he has the right moral stuff to embark on a crusade, does not his past should offer us a glimmer of that moral foundation? Does his thievery in the “intramural” category, makes him morally upgright because he was in the company of big time crooks in the likes of participants in the NBA league?

What is the connection between my having made up my mind about the existence of corruption in the government with the past misdeeds of Mr. Lozada as being relegated into oblivion? I don’t see the connection. I think, given the right team-mates, a smalltime crook can metamorphose into a bigtime plunderer. Only this time, I think, Mr. Lozada was was confused about the composition of his team. He was wearing the jersey of another team but he was actually sitting in another team’s bench. Will he go Joey or will he go Benjie? – The irony is, he never think of the poor Juan de la Cruz as his team.

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Pipe

February 14th, 2008 at 10:29 am

@jcc

*shrug* I’m not saying that Lozada didn’t come to the table witha “profit/loss” mindset – I just said I think it is a generalization to infer that simply because he happens to be Chinese, or a businessman, or both.

As for his moral integrity or lack thereof, I agree that if he actually runs for office, that should be an issue… but from what I’ve seen of the way most people vote, it probably won’t be an issue. As for what I said about people (in general, not you yourself) having made up their minds, that had nothing to do with electibility but with the “credibility” of his statements: i.e. a lot of people (again, in general, and certainly not all) will base their belief not on Lozada’s past deeds, but on whether or not they see the administration as capable of such deeds. For people who think the GMA government is utterly corrupt, it will be difficult to see Lozada’s testimony objectively.

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ge-em-ei

February 14th, 2008 at 2:37 pm

let us character assassinate Mr Lozada…that’s the battle cry now of Abalos and his cohorts.

So let’s do it now. Mr. Lozada is a self confess criminal…another word for a villain…what a pity :)

So…Mr. Lozada is a credible witness of ZTE scam-dal.

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jimpot

February 14th, 2008 at 3:14 pm

I bet u they ‘r kabayan they just used schools as font to get loan for internet so they can impliment what they want easier and faster more efficient wire tapping i bet u someone in this site is getting paid????????let me ask u this kabayan did the Senate or DOJ know about the Wire Tapping when Mr.Lozada got lost or ubducted????PCIJ Can i asked one of your reporter ask this question that i commented

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Alecks P. Pabico

February 14th, 2008 at 4:56 pm

Thanks for your concern, Kabayan. We’ve been monitoring efforts to change the Constitution ever since Arroyo announced that the “Cha-cha train has already left the station” in 2005. Since the resounding defeat of Charter change in whatever manner (people’s initiative, constituent assembly), the call has been issued every now and then, interestingly, when Malacañang is particularly rocked by a political crisis or scandal. So much so that we tend to agree with other pundits that this recent one is, again, only a diversionary ploy. But rest assured, we’ll report on the issue when warranted.

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writ

February 14th, 2008 at 5:40 pm

jcc, panyero ang haba ng post mo ang gulo naman ng message mo. On the one hand, you say Lozada’s credibility is zero and yet you cannot say he is entirely lying. Then you pick and choose the portion of his testimony that you believe as true, such as the overpricing of the goats, when it suites your conclusion that is not even relevant. Who says Lozada’s testimony is about whether or not he is a hero? Ang tanong ay kung nagkaroon ba ng overpricing at kickback sa ZTE-NBN, at kung sino ang mga sangkot.

Ang magaling na witness ay si Atotubo — parang robot, kahit anong itanong hindi lumalabas sa kanyang opening statement. Kaso nga lang palpak si Mascarinas, at may record sa logbook nila ang mga kotse ng PSG, kaya sablay rin.

What a pity.

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jcc

February 15th, 2008 at 2:50 am

WRIT,

Credibility is believable – he is zero from my perspective if he protrays the position that he he is doing this for the sake of country and the flag.

He is telling the truth but not credible if he posture as a moral crusader out to lynch the crooks in the government in which he is one.

It is not a black and white argument.. sometimes the gray confuses most of us lawyers…

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writ

February 15th, 2008 at 7:53 am

jcc,

Thanks for clarifying.

I’m not confused. With all due respect, it’s your original post that was confused — or could you have been trying to confuse as some lawyers are in the habit of doing? You were using Lozada’s impeached credibility as to his heroic posture to impeach as well the credibility of his testimony as to the facts on the ZTE-NBN deal. See for instance your line: “The poor guy is dead as far as credibility and honor is concerned to those who really seek for the truth”.

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jcc

February 15th, 2008 at 7:58 am

Writ,

If you don’t get the message you can ask. Don’t argue that someone’s message is frayed simply because you did not get it. Please read my new post on “Hush Money in Times of Political Crisis. I premise my argument that as per my perspective, Mr. Lozada is like this and like that… you may have your own perception of him different than mine, but I am not asserting my perception as biblical truth and you should respect me for that as I respect whatever your view on Mr. Lozada.

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writ

February 15th, 2008 at 8:40 am

“Don’t argue that someone’s message is frayed simply because you did not get it.”

That’s your twist.

I rest. Peace. Respect.

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Alecks P. Pabico

February 15th, 2008 at 10:19 am

Compared to Jun Lozada, Chavit Singson has much, much more to account for to the Filipino people. Never mind the political killings perpetrated in his province during his time, or the allegations of misuse of public funds, particularly proceeds from the tobacco excise tax. Mind only that he was Erap’s designated collector of jueteng payoffs, that he was part of his inner circle, his “Midnight Cabinet.” Yet the people saw beyond his far graver sins and found his allegations against Erap credible and believable.

Chavit and Lozada were similarly situated. On the verge of being silenced forever, they spilled the beans on what they knew about government wrongdoing. Both “selfish” acts of self-preservation, Chavit’s was however even more so — he was being eased out of potential lucrative gambling profits from Bingo 2-Ball, whose franchise Erap awarded to Eric Singson, Chavit’s cousin.

Yet Filipinos granted Chavit his own epiphany. So why cannot Lozada be granted his?

To those who make much of Lozada’s “impeached credibility,” where is the sense of proportion in all this?

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jcc

February 16th, 2008 at 1:08 am

Wrong Analogy Alecks. Singson is big leaguer, Lozada a smalltime leaguer. Neither of them ask for forgiveness and none was extended.

Singson had served the purpose of those who wanted to depose Erap and Lozada might achieve the same purpose for GMA. Nobody looks at Singson as a hero, and neither anyone should look at Lozada as a hero. Both belong to the same class of people who are anti-Filipino., just like Mr. Abalos, FG, Erap, and most of our politicians.

Pennance and contrition is out of the question.

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jack

February 16th, 2008 at 10:33 pm

To jcc,

Lozada is more than a witness – he is a whistleblower. He was part and parcel of the broadband deal and God knows what else. He never said at any stage that he was innocent. If we want to make a dent against corruption, we have to legitimize whistleblowing; where it is no longer seen as an act of disloyalty but as the fulfillment of civic responsibility.

In the US, whistleblowers protect society not only from corruption, misconduct and waste but also from unsafe and dangerous(environmental)conditions.

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jack

February 16th, 2008 at 11:43 pm

Alecks: “Yet Filipinos granted Chavit his own epiphany.”

If it were up to Filipinos and not the “powers-that-be” during that time, I think they would prefer that Chavit experience his epiphany behind bars – as a criminal that he is.

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ge-em-ei

February 17th, 2008 at 10:12 am

that was a part of the master plan of those people who toppled ERAP, do not highlight SINGSON’s wrongdoings…
only his testimony…magaling ang director noon…kaya ayun…si bulilit…pinaglalaruan na lang ang justice system sa kanyang mga palad at pati ang constitution pilit niyang gustong palitan…spoiled brat talaga…lahat ng magustuhan kukunin…at pag di nakuha agad…magmamaktol…at kung sino ang director noon…siya pa din ngayon…sino kaya sila???

ultimong mga lawyers na may tatak na sa serbisyo ay nagagamit nila…

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jimpot

February 18th, 2008 at 1:41 am

This is how its been,they goodfriend,all the rich people are all to submmit to any help that this politicians wanted or suffer the consiquenses… some of them are really into it….coz they know whenever they want something sign or may ipupuslit sila kunyari right away just mention they name u be alright…..So what do we do this people accused them to…. We have lot rich people that this politician are depending on their money….i suggest and asked this milyonaryo in Phillipines to stop aiding this currupt politicians…Get out the country and have fun already and watch ur money pile up more.. Your money is yours work hard for it,u deserve it not them keep it low key u have family to take care of and your son family…. so pls again RICH PEOPLE STAY AWAY FROM POLITICS,,,, ALL THEY WANT IS UR MO-NEY

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