Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Coming Romulo Neri Moment?

A Commenter named TDC on Ricky Carandang's blog points to this report in the German magazine Der Spiegel which fingers two Chinese telecomm firms, including ZTE Corp.
Der Spiegel

A report suggesting that the Chinese military has hacked into German government computers could have a negative impact on the prospects in Western markets of Chinese equipment vendors Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063 - message board; Hong Kong: 0763), believes an analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort .

German news magazine Der Spiegel reported recently that computers in the German chancellery and the foreign, economic, and research ministries had been infected with Chinese spyware software, and German officials say they believe the hackers were linked to China's People's Liberation Army. (See China's Premier 'Gravely Concerned' by Hack on Germany and China to Use Computer Viruses as Cyberwarfare First Strike.)

Although the ZTE project has been ordered 'temporarily suspended', as Ricky points out on his blog, the Supreme Court has already ordered it temporarily restrained.


The pathbreaking local newsmagazine Newsbreak (now mostly online) reconstructs what may have been the conversation between Romulo Neri and Benjamin Abalos when the latter allegedly offered the former a 200 million peso bribe. I won't spoil Newsbreak's "scoop" so you will have to read it all at their website. In any case the moment of which they speak, is yet to come this coming Wednesday at the Senate, when the Blue Ribbon and Trade and Industry Committees of Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Mar Roxas take up once more the ZTE National Broadband Network hearings.

There is palpable hope in the media and blogosphere that Romulo Neri will have the smoking gun on Abalos. That he will not kiss, but tell of the attempt. But Wednesday is an awfully long time from now...


It looks like the Cyber-Education project of the Department of Education will suffer the same fate as the tainted ZTE National Broadband Network. Worth 26 billion pesos, it was considerably larger than the government's internal computer system worth 16 billion. But I think the provision of telecommunications infrastructure into the public schools is a worthwhile goal. However, I also believe that the government as such is absolutely the last choice I would make to implement any given proposal. Any future Cyber Education Project should be undertaken largely by the Private Sector. Simple as that. Keep government out of it because the government is inherently incapable of implementing such projects. A key consideration is the matter of technical obsolescence and its interplay with cost and deployment decisions, best handled again by the private sector. The dismal record of DOTC in the Telepono Para Sa Barangay project certainly disqualifies them in my mind, automatically!

What then is the role of government? I think it is to do the ONE thing that they did NOT do in the ZTE NBN thing. The Government does not have a Specification of what it wants to buy. They just take whatever proposal happens to float by and take the best one, according to Secretary Leandro Mendoza in the Senate last week. I think that is nuts. Most of these projects have very good goals, but the best way to get them done is with full transparency. We cannot build complex machines in the dark, why should we attempt it with the government's computer and telecommunication's facilities?

These big complex systems should have clearly defined and publicly discussed Functional Specifications and ought to be publicly bidded out for optimal results. In fact, a BOT project not cornered by the son of the House speaker would do the job, at least for the education department. I think DOTC should not be in the telecomms business however. The government computer system should be run by the Department of National Defense.


Jen said...

I absolutely agree. The Cyber-Ed project indeed became the collateral damage.
I was literally squrming at the sight (and sound) of Leandro Mendoza during the Senate hearing last Thursday. But then again, what do you expect from someone who spends most of his time playing golf at Wack-wack instead of attending to the needs of his Department? The President should just sack him and all those found to have had something to do with this anomalous deal. Heck, he should just resign out of courtesy. But that's far from happening. He has all these interests to protect.

Dave Llorito said...

no, i dont think so. CEP is as rotten as NBN: no bidding, no transparency, no independent technical evaluation to merit its approval.

from the technical perspective, DOTC's technical working group was against CEP because its not cost effective and there are lots of technical issues involed. the tech guys couldnt imagine DepEd whose expertise is in teaching suddenly fiddling satellite based communications network. its simply not its core competence. it was approved anyway because the Chinese wanted it for us. funny!

but yes, we should have it but under private sector arrangements.

DJB Rizalist said...

i think romulo neri may also shed some light on the cep deal since neda looked into it. the only thing is, Wednesday is a very long time away and they are surely working on him to keep mum.

Amadeo said...

I strongly hope that Romy does the right thing - that is, relate what actually happened.

I have the firm belief that he will indeed follow this path, culled from close personal relationships between his family and ours.

There is nothing so far from his official acts in different capacities, including non-official acts many of us are privy, to suggest otherwise.

So we'll see this coming Wednesday.

Anonymous said...

So,Neri will join GMA to the states.

DJB Rizalist said...

hehehe. i've heard of flight being a sign of guilt. But this takes the cake.

Raul F. said...

It's all a matter of priorities. I heard Lapus on the radio say that, sure the problem of lack of classrooms is still there and the ideal ratio is 30 students per classroom. The present ratio is 100 students per classroom and it takes a heavy toll on the teachers. But he said that since the problem cannot be solved even within 5 years, he wants the CEP to assist the teachers cope with the situation. He wants to put a TV set in the overcrowded classroom to act as an assistant teacher.

That's the most stupid thing I've ever heard. If the problem is the heavy toll on the teachers because of the lack of classrooms, then spend the P26 billion on new classrooms that do not become obsolete to reduce the student-classroom ratio and more textbooks to aid student learning. We have not even solved our basic requirements and here's DepEd wanting to spend billions in supplementary teaching aid. Crazy!

DJB Rizalist said...

The problem with classrooms definitely has to do with a budget allocation of less than a P1B last year. And of course DPWF builds at twice the cost of the private sector. That's one problem.

But take a look at textbooks. There are 20 million kids and five subjects. So conservatively speaking you need 100 million textbooks per year, ideally. At ten peso each (impossible) that's already P1B. At 100 pesos each (more reasonable but still low quality) its P10B and at 200 pesos which is the lowest price in private school textbooks, you are looking at P20B needed in textbooks yearly. Granted they don't all have to be new books, but at these prices they really cannot last more than a few hands me down cycles.

So I think there is room for cyber something, although I would rather put it in INTERNET facilities rather than TV.