Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Arroyo skipping ZTE graft hearings
Former President Arroyo submits to the Sandiganbayan a waiver on her appearance in the trial of her graft case.

MANILA, Philippines – Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo no longer wants to appear during the trial of her graft case over the botched NBN-ZTE deal.

Arroyo submitted to the Sandiganbayan a “waiver” of her appearance, meaning she is not exercising her right to be present and to dispute her identity whenever her name is mentioned.

Arroyo’s lawyer Jose Flaminiano submitted the waiver on her behalf last week.

Last April 11, Arroyo and her husband, former First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo pleaded not guilty to the graft charges.

In the charge it filed late last year, the Ombudsman accused Mrs Arroyo of using the presidency to push for the proposal of a Chinese firm, ZTE Inc, to undertake the controversial NBN project.

The former President thus faces two counts of graft and another charge for allegedly violating the ethical code for public officials.

The first graft charge named Mr. Arroyo, former Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr, and former Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza as co-accused.

Arroyo is also facing trial for a separate electoral sabotage case, this time at the Pasay Regional Trial Court.

The former President is currently detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City. –

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