Romulo Neri and the NBN Scam

The year 1971 was, for Neri, the start of a corporate career spanning several years. From 1971 to 1977 he held various management positions in Riverside Mills Corp., Mobil Oil Philippines, Luzon Stevedoring Corp., and the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC).

He enrolled at the MBA program at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1977 and earned his degree two years later.

He returned to the country the same year he completed his MBA, and worked until 1985 for CJ Yulo and Sons, Inc.

From 1986 to 1990, he was a professor at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

In 1990, he was appointed director-general of the Congressional Budget and Planning Office (CBPO) – a post he held until 2002, when Arroyo took him in as NEDA director-general.

During his stint at the CBPO – his longest in any single government post so far – he became closely associated with the elder De Venecia, who has served several terms as House Speaker. He is reported to have been appointed to the post of NEDA director-general upon the elder De Venecia’s recommendation.

In July 2005, he was appointed to head the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) after then Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin resigned along with other cabinet officials who were part of the group now known as the Hyatt 10 over the surfacing of the so-called “Hello Garci” tapes.

The “Hello Garci” tapes were a series of recorded telephone conversations in which a voice similar to Arroyo’s is heard instructing an election official – widely believed to be former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano – to rig the 2004 elections.

The surfacing of the “Hello Garci” tapes provoked calls for Arroyo’s resignation or removal from office, but Neri stood by the President through the controversy. He was made to head the DBM after the Hyatt 10’s resignation, and stayed at that post until he was transferred back to NEDA following Rolando Andaya’s appointment as budget secretary in February 2006.

Last July he was temporarily transferred to CHEd. Media reports have speculated that his transfer had something to do with his disputing the 6.2-percent growth figure projected by Malacañang as the target for 2008. But Suplico, for his part, opined that his transfer may have been connected to the NBN deal – something which Neri said at the Sept. 26 hearing was something he thought unlikely.

A little over two months after his transfer to CHEd, Neri creates an uproar with the revelation that Abalos had offered him a P200-million peso bribe in relation to the NBN project. Right now it remains to be seen whether or not he would eventually spill the beans on the possible involvement of the Arroyo couple in the controversial contract. (

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