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Sandiganbayan junks plea to drop raps vs Arroyo

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02:26 AM January 9th, 2013

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By: Cynthia D. Balana, January 9th, 2013 02:26 AM

Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. AP FILE PHOTO

The Sandiganbayan has dismissed the petitions to dismiss the graft case against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo, and two other former government officials allegedly involved in the anomalous NBN-ZTE broadband project during her administration.

In a resolution promulgated on Jan. 7,  the antigraft court’s Fourth Division threw out the motion to quash filed by the Arroyos last September, together with former Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza and former Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos.

The motion had argued that the facts alleged in the case did not constitute graft because the contract had already been  canceled. It was also cited that the contract was not signed in the Philippines.

In its resolution denying the motion, the court said the information in the case was sufficient in form and content.

It said the presence or absence of the elements of the crime is evidentiary in nature and “is a matter of defense that may be passed upon after a full-blown trial on the merits.”

“In this case, whether or not the contract was validly existing at the time of the filing of the complaint, and the effects thereof on the government, are matters of defense which need presentation and consideration of evidence in the resolution of the same,” the court added.

On the issue that it has no jurisdiction over the case because the contract was signed abroad, the court said that jurisdiction is consistent based on the information in the charge sheet.

The court said the information filed specifically stated, “That in or about February to April 2007, in Malacañang, Manila, Philippines, or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court….”

“The words are clear, without room for interpretation. There is no basis to deal or argue in semantics,” the Sandiganbayan said.

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