In wake of ZTE scandal, a stronger de Venecia bind

Mar. 15, 2008

DAVAO CITY — Whistleblower Joey de Venecia III of the ZTE-NBN controversy said he was sorry about the fate of his father, former House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., after he exposed the anomaly surrounding the broadband contract.

But he also said the relationship between him and his father, and between his father and his stepmother, Gina de Venecia, has never been this good.

Joey de Venecia being interviewed by reporters in Davao City during a recent visit. ( photo by Jonald Mahinay)

The younger de Venecia, who talked in a press conference during a visit here March 7, said his relationship with his father Jose de Venecia Jr. has improved after the ZTE expos. He said he found himself closer to his family now more than ever.

He was the first to blow the whistle on the $329-million ZTE-NBN anomaly, after his firm, Amsterdam Holdings Inc., was sidelined in the deal, which he said was overpriced by $130 million.

Joey said he and his father used to disagree over their differing positions.

I used to be independent, Joey said. I was living my own life for the past 25 years.

But that was hard when you think about it. I looked at the truth — the national interest to my left then, my father’s career to my right, he said in Filipino and English.

His expos did not sit well with his father’s chief political ally, President Arroyo.

It was election time and his father was campaigning for a seat in Congress as Pangasinan representative, and later, as the speaker of the House.

Joey de Venecia graces the forum on the ZTE- NBN controversy at the Ateneo de Davao University. ( photo by Jonald Mahinay)

Joey said he was asked to slow down a little bit when he started his expos. My mom Gina gave me a call. She said, ‘Joey, it’s March. It’s local election. Siguro you can defer muna your complaints against this government. Mukhang kinakalaban tayo.’ That was the first time I talked to my Tita Gina like my own mother, Joey said.

But when he started appearing at the Senate hearings, Gina de Venecia helped and encouraged him.

She called some of the senators we helped in the past. That was just to give me a fair share and not to beat me up too much. From there, my relationship with my mother Gina became very strong, and now my relationship with my father is much stronger, he said.

Joey blamed himself when the administration pressured his father after his expos.

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