Sandiganbayan junks Arroyo plea to drop ZTE case
MANILA, Philippines – The graft case against former President and now Pampanga Rep Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will proceed.
The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division denied a motion of the Arroyo camp and her 3 co-accused to dismiss the graft case in connection with the botched National Broadband Network (NBN)-ZTE deal.
The court issued a resolution on Monday, January 7, denying the motion to quash of former First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo.
Mrs Arroyo adopted the motion, along with co-accused former Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr, and former Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza.
Associate Justice Maria Christina Cornejo wrote the ruling. Associate Justices Jose Hernandez and Gregory Ong, chairman of the division, concurred.
In his motion, Arroyo’s husband called the graft case defective, saying the NBN-ZTE deal never pushed through. He also questioned the anti-graft court’s jurisdiction over the case, arguing that the contract was signed and executed in Boao, China in 2007.
The Sandiganbayan dismissed Arroyo’s arguments, pointing out that the case stated that the offense was committed in February to April 2007 in Malacañang.
“There is no basis to deal or argue in semantics,” the court said. “At this stage, this Court assumes jurisdiction based on what is alleged in the information.”
The court also said the case is not defective even if the deal was botched.
“Whether or not the contract was validly existing at the time of the filing of the complaint, and the effects thereof on the government, are matters of defense which need presentation and consideration of evidence.”
The case concerns the US$329-M National Broadband Network project (NBN) previously awarded in 2007 to Chinese contractor, Zhing Xing Telecommunications Equipment Inc. (ZTE), but later rescinded by Arroyo after reports of massive irregularities surfaced.
Arroyo faces a separate plunder case before the Sandiganbayan over the allegedly unlawful transfer of P365,997,915 in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office confidential/intelligence funds from January 2008 to June 2010. – Rappler.com