MANILA, Philippines – [UPDATED] The Ombudsman on Wednesday, December 28, filed graft charges against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in relation to the botched NBN-ZTE deal.
The case was filed at around 4:30 p.m. just as the graft court’s docket section was closing for the day.
A source privy to the case told Rappler that the charges against the former president involve violations of Sections 3-G and 3-I of the Anti-Graft & Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019) as well as provisions of the Code of Conduct of and Ethical Standards of Government Officials and Employees (RA 6713).
Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr., former Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza and former First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo were also named in one of the graft charges.
The cases were based on plunder charges earlier filed before the Ombudsman by Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, former Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Maza and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) chairperson Carol Araullo. (A copy of the complaint is provided below.)
The Ombudsman, however, only approved the filing of graft charges.
Unlike plunder, graft is a bailable offense. Bail has been set at P70,000 for former President Arroyo, and total of P30,000 for all her co-accused.
The former president is currently detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Hospital in relation to a separate charge of electoral sabotage filed against her and Abalos by the Comelec. Abalos is also currently detained at the Southern Police District in Taguig City.
Sought for comment, Casiño told Rappler they are happy that a case has finally been filed with the Sandiganbayan. He added, however, “We would have been happier if it is plunder.”
“Later on, as the case will progress, hopefully it can still be upgraded to plunder. The efforts to establish plunder should not stop.”
Casiño maintained that there is enough evidence to prove plunder. He cited the testimony of witness Dante Madriaga, who testified before the Senate that the First Family received at least US$20-million in exchange for approving the contract.
“We will ask the Office of Ombudsman what kind of case build up they did. We’re not sure if they followed up with Mr. Madriaga.”
Casino said the Office of the Ombudsman did not involve Bayan Muna when they were investigating the case. “Medyo weird. We actually offered to work with them. But I don’t know. ” – Rappler.com
Erratum: This story earlier said that the case against former President Arroyo was filed Tuesday, December 27. We apologize for the error.