MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan’s fourth division has ordered the issuance of an arrest warrant against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, her husband Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, former Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza, and ex-election chair Benjamin Abalos in relation to a pending graft case.
We learned this from a source in the Sandiganbayan who said the resolution was issued by the court on Tuesday morning, March 13. The charges are bailable.
Mrs Arroyo is already under house arrest over a separate case accusing her of electoral sabotage. Her lawyer has asked the Sandiganbayan to allow her to post bail at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, where she is detained.
As of posting, Mr Arroyo’s lawyer Ferdinand Topacio was on his way to the Sandiganbayan in Quezon City to post a recommended bail of P30,000.
Mike Arroyo, Mendoza, and Abalos are her co-accused in a single graft charge on allegations that they exerted influence to push for the approval of the $329 million proposal of Chinese firm ZTE Inc. to undertake the national broadband network (NBN) project.
Mr Arroyo and Mendoza earlier asked the court to defer the issuance of arrest warrants against them. The court junked this request.
In his Urgent Omnibus Motion dated March 9, Mr Arroyo, through lawyer Edna Batacan, reiterated his stand that there is no basis to indict him and his co-defendants because the NBN-ZTE deal was rescinded and never took effect.
This was echoed by Mendoza in his own motion filed March 12 through his counsels from the Poblador Bautista and Reyes law office.
They argued, in effect, that the case filed by the Ombudsman was based on a non-existent contract.
The 2 cited Supreme Court pronouncements in the case of Duterte vs. Sandiganbayan that there can be no violation of Section 3(g) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Law when the contract alleged to be disadvantageous has already been cancelled.
They both asserted that the Office of Ombudsman cannot be allowed to go back on its previous ruling that cleared them of any criminal liability in connection to the contract saying the anti-graft body is now precluded by res judicata.
Likewise, Mr Arroyo claimed that in the case of Henry Go vs. Sandiganbayan, the Supreme Court has already ruled that a private individual like him cannot be held liable for a supposed violation of Section 3(g) of the same law because he is neither a contracting party to the contract or a representative of one.
At the same time, he pointed out that the NBN-ZTE deal was a government-to-government transaction and not subject to public bidding hence, also insulated from direct or indirect influence.
Mendoza for his part insisted that there was no overprice in the NBN-ZTE contract, contrary to the finding of Ombudsman investigators, as he maintained that it was more extensive in both scope and coverage than the build-operate-and-transfer proposal of Amsterdam Holdings Inc. – Rappler.com