Belmonte explains why Arroyo still not suspended
MANILA, Philippines–Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has informed the Sandiganbayan of the actions taken by the House of Representatives on the 90-day preventive suspension imposed on Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In his compliance letter dated September 23, Belmonte said the lower chamber will vote on the court’s suspension order in connection with the graft charges filed against the former president over the cancelled national broadband deal.
Belmonte said he transmitted the suspension order to the House committee on rules which would include the order to the plenary’s order of business.
“The Speaker, in compliance with the order of the Honorable Court, has transmitted and referred the same to the Majority Floor Leader for the action of the House of Representatives,” the letter read.
Belmonte forwarded the instructions to the rules committee on September 22, or five days before Congress went on break on September 27.
The anti-graft court on September 13 demanded an explanation from the lower house why it has not yet suspended Arroyo. The anti-graft court on July ordered the House of Representatives to suspend Arroyo for 90 days.
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 $329-million National Broadband Network deal with China’s ZTE.
Arroyo was accused of approving the deal despite knowing its irregularities, and for having lunch and playing golf with ZTE officials while the broadband project proposal was still being assessed by the Philippine government.
Arroyo later canceled the project after a whistleblower told a congressional inquiry that the deal was overpriced and that there was bribery. The project would have interconnected government offices nationwide through a broadband technology.
Arroyo is under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in a separate plunder case involving charity intelligence funds.