NBN-ZTE ver. 2.0? Salalima quits due to pressure from Chinese firms, Duterte allies on P78B broadband project
Intense lobbying from Chinese firms and allies of President Rodrigo Duterte wanting to take a piece of the action on the government’s proposed P77.9-billion national broadband project prompted Information and Communications Technology Secretary Rodolfo Salalima to quit his post.
A Politiko source said Salalima cited “political and bureaucratic” pressure to his close friends as the main reason why he decided to step down from the job since his appointment 14 months ago.
The source said Salalima was practically besieged left and right by offers from Chinese firms and Duterte allies since the Department of Information and Communication Technology announced last Sept. 10 its plan to bid out the project under a public-private partnership deal.
The broadband project is expected to be one of the biggest deals under Duterte as the cost could balloon to as high as P200 billion depending on whether the proponent would build the cell site towers or it would just ride on the transmission towers of National Grid Corp. of the Philippines.
The broadband project was initially proposed during the Arroyo administration which awarded a $329 million National Broadband Network contract to ZTE Corp. of China in April 2007. The NBN-ZTE project, however, was scrapped in October 2007 as the losing bidder, represented by businessman Joey De Venecia, accused then First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and top Arroyo officials of corruption in the award of the project to ZTE.