MANILA, Philippines – Prosecutors handling graft charges against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in connection with the National Broadband Network project with ZTE Inc. informed the Sandiganbayan 4th Division on Monday, March 19 that they will no longer oppose her request to be allowed to post bail.
Acting Prosecution Bureau IV director Rabendranath Uy and assistant special prosecutors Louella Mae Oco-Pesquera, Jacinto M. dela Cruz Jr. and Marlon N. Ramos notified the graft court of their agreement that bail proceedings are best held at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) for “humanitarian reasons” as Arroyo still requires medical care.
They added that such arrangements would also spare the government from the expense of arranging security measures for Arroyo when she is taken to the Sandiganbayan. It would also lessen security risks for such an undertaking.
This does not necessarily mean Mrs Arroyo can leave the VMMC because she is currently being held there under hospital arrest in relation to charges of electoral sabotage, a non-bailable offense.
Mrs Arroyo is accused of abusing her powers as president when she allegedly pushed for the approval of the $329 million proposal of ZTE to undertake the project. The Office of the Ombudsman has declared to be grossly overpriced.
Prosecutors charged Arroyo of hoping to gain from her support of the NBN-ZTE project when she pushed for the project even when she had been informed beforehand of attendant irregularities like bribery and influence-peddling.
The contract was rescinded after Congress launched inquiries into allegations of corruption. Despite this, the Ombudsman filed criminal charges against the former President in December 2011.
Also charged in relation to the case are Arroyo’s husband Jose Miguel Arroyo, former Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza and resigned Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr.
The Sandiganbayan also issued arrest warrants against Arroyo’s co-accused on March 13, even as it overruled the defendant’s request to defer proceedings and to set a hearing for oral arguments on the validity of the charges.
Total bail bonds for Arroyo was set at P70,000 for two counts of graft (P30,000 each) and one charge for violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (RA 6713) (P10,000). – Rappler.com