Sandigan affirms dismissal of Arroyo’s last graft case
The Sandiganbayan has affirmed its dismissal of the last graft case against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in connection with the botched national broadband network deal.
In a six-page resolution dated Nov. 10, the antigraft court’s Fourth Division denied the state prosecutors’ appeal of its Aug. 25 resolution granting the demurrer filed by Arroyo, her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo, and former Commission on Elections chair Benjamin Abalos.
This case pertains to charges they violated the antigraft law’s provision prohibiting officials from entering into disadvantageous contracts.
The court said that granting the demurrer due to insufficient evidence amounts to an acquittal, and it could not reevaluate the evidence without causing double jeopardy.
“Even granting, without conceding, that the NBN contract was grossly disadvantageous, it should be emphasized that said contract was nevertheless canceled,” the court said.
Prosecutors claimed the $329-million deal with ZTE was disadvantageous because it was much pricier and covered only 30 percent of the country, compared to the $240-million proposal by Amsterdam Holdings Inc., which provided 80-percent coverage.
They also cited a “whopping increase of the contract price” that could only be explained by commissions for the Filipino officials.
Arroyo dismissed the kickback allegations as mere speculation. She also said the prosecution’s own witness testified that the contract covered not 30 percent but the whole country.
On Nov. 7, the Fourth Division denied another appeal by the prosecution against an Aug. 8 resolution granting demurrers on separate charges of corrupt practices and acceptance of gifts.
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