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Asia-Pacific
Philippines elections chief quits
Resignation follows allegations of involvement in high-profile bribery scandal.
Last Modified: 02 Oct 2007 05:51 GMT
Arroyo has been facing growing allegations of corruption in her government [EPA]

The head of the Philippines elections commission has resigned amid allegations of his involvement in a high profile bribery scandal.

 

Benjamin Abalos announced his decision on Monday after allegations surfaced that he tried to bribe a cabinet official and a businessman to secure a broadband contract with a Chinese company.

His announcement just hours before before Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Philippine president, left Manila for a two-day visit to China aimed at boosting trade and political ties.

Last week an impeachment complaint was filed after the Philippine senate heard from Romulo Neri, the former socioeconomics secretary, that Abalos had offered him $4.4m to endorse the bid by China's Zhong Xing Telecommunication Equipment (ZTE) Corp.

 

"Let not my detractors feast on this declaration"

Benjamin Abalos, former Philippines elections chief

ZTE has denied any irregularities but the government has suspended the $330m contract.

 

The Chinese government has said that questions over the ZTE contract would not affect its growing business ties with the Philippines.

 

Denying all allegations, Abalos said his resignation was meant to spare the elections body "from the vicious and malicious attacks on my person".

 

"I'm resigning... effective immediately," Abalos said. "However, let not my detractors feast on this declaration. I'm not admitting guilt for any wrongdoing."

 

Abalos faced allegations he offered bribes to
secure a contract for a Chinese firm [Reuters]
A spokesman for Arroyo said she had accepted his resignation.

 

"We respect his decision and appreciate his desire to protect his family and the Commission on Elections from vicious politics," Ignacio Bunye said in a statement.

 

The latest scandal has raised fresh domestic political concerns as Arroyo tries to woo investors and improve the country's economy.

 

Also last week, a Philippine businessman, Jose "Joey" de Venecia III, whose company Amsterdam Holdings Inc lost the Chinese bid, told a senate hearing that Abalos had offered him $10m to withdraw his own broadband proposal.

 

Lawyers for Abalos said he would sue de Venecia and Neri for damages and file an additional complaint of perjury against Neri for allegedly lying under oath during the senate hearing which was televised nationally.

Source:
Agencies
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