45 witnesses lined up vs Arroyos, 2 others
MANILA, Philippines - The prosecution on Monday, May 21, submitted a list of 45 witnesses who will be called to testify in the forthcoming graft trial of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo concerning the botched US$329-M national broadband deal.
Among those named as prosecution witnesses were 3 former members of Arroyo’s Cabinet namely Economic Planning Secretary Romulo L. Neri, Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila and Finance Secretary Margarito Teves.
Also in the same list were whistleblowers Engr. Rodolfo Noel Lozada, businessman Jose “Joey” de Venecia III and former House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.
Prosecutors said they are also hoping to bring in a representative of Chinese firm ZTE, although they did not name any of the firm’s official in particular. It was ZTE that entered into the botched contract with the Philippine government.
Also scheduled to take the witness stand are former Representatives Rolex Suplico (Iloilo) and Carlos Padilla (Nueva Vizcaya), who were among the first to raise questions on irregularities attending the NBN-ZTE deal.
Mrs Arroyo, now serving a three-year term as congresswoman of Pampanga, was indicted on two counts of graft and one count of violation of RA 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
She was accused of entering into a transaction that was grossly disadvantageous to the country’s interest, of having interest in the negotiation with hopes for personal gain and accepting favors from the Chinese contractor when she was treated to a round of golf and a lunch.
Named co-defendants in the first graft case were her husband lawyer Jose Miguel Arroyo, former Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos III and former Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza.
The prosecution said it needs at least 12 trial days in which to complete its presentation of evidence against all the defendants. - Rappler.com