MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan confirmed that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved the filing of a graft case against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The Ombudsman filed the case before the anti-graft court Wednesday, Dec. 28., in relation to the botched NBN-ZTE deal.
The Office of the Ombudsman requested that the case be raffled Thursday, Dec. 29, but Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Francisco Villaruz turned down the request, setting it to January 2.
Rappler broke the story Wednesday that the case was filed that day at 4:30pm, just as the court’s docket section was closing.
Aside from Arroyo, the Ombudsman sued her husband, lawyer Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, former Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr. and former Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza with graft.
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. (Read copy of the plunder complaint.)
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 Center in Quezon City in relation to a separate charge of electoral sabotage filed against her over the 2007 senatorial polls. Abalos faces similar charges and is also detained at the Southern Police District in Taguig City.
This is the first case Morales filed against Arroyo since President Benigno Aquino III appointed her in July. Morales, a former Supreme Court associate justice, replaced Merceditas Gutierrez who was impeached by the House of Representatives in March.
Gutierrez was accused of sitting on cases filed against Arroyo. Gutierrez and Mike Arroyo were classmates in law school. She resigned before the impeachment trial at the Senate even began. – Rappler.com