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More former gov’t execs to be subpoenaed in graft case vs Abalos

/ 05:42 PM February 23, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—Ombudsman prosecutors have asked the Sandiganbayan to subpoena former officials of the Arroyo administration as well as former ZTE Corp. consultant Dante Madriaga to testify in the graft case against former elections chief Benjamin Abalos in connection with the national broadband network deal.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor sought subpoenas for five witnesses for the March 5 and 6 hearings on Abalos’ case.

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Aside from Madriaga, the OSP asked the court to direct former Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, former Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila, businessman Ruben Reyes and Ferdinand Gaite, president of Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage) to appear at the next hearing.

Abalos is being tried for graft for allegedly intervening in the NBN contract, which was alien to his duties as the Commission on Elections chief during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

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The $329-million deal with China’s ZTE Corp. was eventually canceled due to allegations of bribery and overpricing.

In December, Abalos was included in another NBN graft case where he was found liable for meeting with Romulo Neri, a former director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, and the latter’s consultant, Rodolfo Lozada, in connection with the broadband deal.

His co-accused in this case are Arroyo, her husband Jose Miguel, and Transportation and Communication Secretary Leandro Mendoza. This latest graft case has yet to go to trial.

Madriaga, a former ZTE consultant for the NBN deal, earlier told the Senate that his bosses told him that ZTE Corp. had advanced $41 million to brokers of the contract. Madriaga had alleged that the group brokering the contract included the Arroyos, Abalos and Reyes.

Reyes was also allegedly among those present in a meeting where Abalos discussed the NBN deal with ZTE Corp.

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TAGS: government and politics, law and justice, Sandiganbayan
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