Sandigan allows Gloria Arroyo to petition for dismissal of NBN-ZTE case | Inquirer News

Sandigan allows Gloria Arroyo to petition for dismissal of NBN-ZTE case

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:38 AM June 25, 2016

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been allowed to contest her indictment for graft over the $329-million national broadband network (NBN) agreement with China’s ZTE Corp.

The Sandiganbayan has granted Arroyo’s motion for leave to file a demurrer aimed at convincing the court to dismiss the graft charges brought against her by the Office of the Ombudsman.

A demurrer to evidence is a pleading filed by an accused urging a court to immediately junk a case over the failure of the prosecution to back up its charges with strong evidence.


“(U)nless the court shall require further submissions from the parties, this incident will be submitted for resolution,” the court’s Fourth Division said in its June 17 decision, a copy of which was released to the media yesterday.


10 days to petition

The antigraft court ordered Arroyo, who has been under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center since 2011 for plunder, to submit her petition within a nonextendible period of 10 days.

Ombudsman prosecutors were also given the same period to file their opposition after receiving a copy of her motion.

The resolution was signed by Associate Justice Jose Hernandez, chair of the Fourth Division, and Associate Justices Alex Quiroz and Geraldine Faith Econg.

The court also canceled the hearings it set for July 20 and 21 on the prosecution’s initial presentation of evidence against Arroyo, who was elected to a third and last term as Pampanga representative in the May 9 elections.

In a separate decision, the Sandiganbayan junked her similar petition in connection with a plunder case against her over the alleged misuse of P366 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds.


‘Persecution not prosecution’

In seeking the dismissal of the graft charges, Arroyo said the government lawyers failed to prove that the NBN-ZTE internet project was overpriced and disadvantageous to the government.

But the prosecutors insisted they were able to present sufficient evidence to warrant Arroyo’s trial for two counts of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The prosecution said she had shown her personal interest in the multimillion-dollar project when she joined Philippine government officials in playing golf with ZTE executives in Shenzhen, China, in 2006.

Her husband, former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, then Commission on Elections chair Benjamin Abalos, the late Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza and then National Economic and Development Authority chief Romulo Neri had also played golf with the ZTE officials.

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Last month, the court acquitted Abalos following the prosecution’s failure to prove that he brokered to secure the lucrative contract for ZTE.

TAGS: Broadband, China, Graft, ZTE Broadband

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