By Lito Zulueta
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:13:00 03/17/2008MANILA, Philippines – Stage and film
actor Fernando Josef has resigned as
vice president and artistic director
of the Cultural Center of the
Philippines after the CCP board voted
to deny the request of a group of
artists to stage a concert to raise
funds for the “sanctuary fund” of
national broadband network (NBN)
corruption scandal witness
Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada.
Josef said he had supported the
proposal of the artists’ group in the
name of artistic freedom.
He added he is also “Lozada’s friend.”
But what made him resign was not the
CCP board’s decision, which he said
he “totally respects,” but because a
board member “attacked Lozada” after
the vote was made March 11.
“I don’t think it is proper to
criticize someone whose life is
obviously in danger,” Josef said.
He added that artists were trying to
raise money for Lozada’s sanctuary
fund because he and his family faced
threats for telling what he knew about
the $329 million controversy.
Josef explained he decided to resign
as “a public apology” for Lozada
from “an artist and a cultural worker.”
Josef refused to name the board member
who attacked Lozada.
The CCP board is chaired by Emily
Abrera. Members are Nestor Jardin (who
is also president), Behn Cervantes,
Lorna Kapunan, Jaime Laya, Martin
Lopez, Teresita Luz, Ruperto Nicdao,
Zenaida Tantoco, Nestor Torre Jr. and
Isabel Caro Wilson.
Laya was not present during the
controversial board meeting.
Established in 1989, the CCP is a
performing arts venue attached to the
Office of the President and under the
umbrella of the National Commission
for Culture and the Arts. Its board
members are all appointed by the
Josef said he was a friend of Lozada.
In fact, he said he was among those
who waited for Lozada at the Manila
airport for his arrival from Hong Kong
on Feb. 5.
Josef added he was among those whom
Lozada frantically called through
mobile SMS when he was picked up by
men who turned out to be police
operatives sent by Environment
Secretary Lito Atienza.
Lozada has since called the incident
an abduction, saying the
administration tried to stop him from
testifying in the Senate inquiry on
the NBN scandal involving multimillion-
dollar commission allegedly being
demanded by then Commission on
Elections chair Benjamin Abalos,
reportedly with the blessings of the
President’s husband, Mike Arroyo.
The government has denied the charges.
Josef said he frantically texted back
Lozada for his whereabouts, but did
not get any reply until many hours
later when Lozada had apparently found
refuge in Catholic nuns and brothers
who shielded him from government
“He texted ‘I’m okay na,'” Josef
said. “‘Please tell Violet and my
family I’m okay. I’ve decided to do
the right thing.'”
Josef said he had thought Lozada would
commit suicide until the witness asked
him later to organize the press
conference on the early morning of
Feb. 7. Facing the press finally,
Lozada tearfully recounted his ordeal
when he returned from Hong Kong and
finally blew the whistle on the NBN
Sincere and honest
Josef said he first met Lozada in his
capacity as CCP official looking for
ways to provide housing and livelihood
assistance for artists and cultural
He said Lozada, who was then the
president of the Philippine Forest
Corp., had thought of converting idle
lands into artists’ colony.
“I was impressed with his honesty and
desire to help the people,” Josef
said. “I was struck by his sincerity
in getting rid of corruption. Even
then, Jun was complaining that greed
and corruption were anti-poor, anti-
He said last December Lozada had
confessed to him he was getting
threats because of his role in the NBN
case. (Lozada, an Electronic and
Communications Engineering graduate
from UST, was dragged into the case