Sandigan asks Belmonte: Why isn’t Arroyo suspended yet?
MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan fourth division is demanding an explanation from the House of Representatives on why it has not yet suspended former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The anti-graft court on July ordered the lower chamber to suspend Arroyo for 90 days over graft in connection with the controversial NBN-ZTE deal.
State prosecutors had filed the motion to suspend Arroyo from public office, noting that under the anti-graft law, suspension is mandatory for officials who are facing valid graft charges.
Arroyo, for her part, said suspending her from public office was unconstitutional because it would deprive her constituencies in Pampanga second district representation in Congress.
The court ordered Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to write to the Sandiganbayan within five days of notice about the action taken to enforce the resolution.
The Speaker’s letter should state the actual date the accused should serve her suspension and the date of the end of her 90-day suspension, the court’s resolution said.
But the Sandiganbayan said until now, it has not yet received a letter from the Speaker’s office.
The court also said the suspension order is already final since Arroyo did not file a motion for reconsideration.
“The House Speaker of the House of Representatives or his duly authorized representative is hereby directed to: (a) explain to this Court in writing within ten (10) days from notice why until now he has not advised this Court of the action he has taken to enforce the suspension order issued in these cases against accused Ms. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; and (b) enforce such suspension order, which has already attained finality, the accused having opted not to file any motion for reconsideration against it,” the order read.
The order was received by the Office of the Speaker on September 11.
Arroyo was charged with two counts of graft and one count of breach of the code of conduct for public officials for her approval of the NBN deal, a $329-million national broadband network deal with China.
Arroyo was accused of approving the deal despite knowing its irregularities, and for having lunch and playing golf with ZTE officials while their broadband project proposal was still being assessed by government.
Arroyo later canceled the project after a scandal over its supposed overpricing and the alleged bribery of public officials erupted. The project would have interconnected government offices nationwide through broadband technology.
The Office of the Ombudsman had said that the deal was overpriced and disadvantageous to the government.
Arroyo is under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in a separate plunder case involving charity intelligence funds.