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Graft cases vs Arroyo over NBN-ZTE deal junked

Camille Elemia

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Graft cases vs Arroyo over NBN-ZTE deal junked
(UPDATED) The Sandiganbayan rules that the evidence presented by the prosecution ‘did not sufficiently prove’ that the former president benefitted from the alleged overpriced deal

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Sandiganbayan on Friday, September 16, junked the remaining graft cases against former president and now Pampanga 2nd district Representative Gloria Arroyo involving the botched $329-million National Broadband Network-ZTE deal (NBN-ZTE deal) in 2007.

In two separate resolutions, the anti-graft court ruled that the evidence presented by the prosecution “did not sufficiently” prove the guilt of Arroyo in the allegedly overpriced deal. The Sandiganbayan junked the 3 graft cases filed against the former president and one graft case against her husband, former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and former Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr.

The Ombudsman earlier accused Arroyo of violating Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The Sandiganbayan’s 4th Division was unanimous in deciding that the prosecution failed to establish that the contract with NBN-ZTE was grossly disadvantageous to government. It also said there was not enough proof to claim that Arroyo was motivated by personal gain when, as chair of the National Economic and Development Authority, she okayed the deal.

Neither was there enough evidence that there was conspiracy to commit fraud, the anti-graft court said. Further, the court said the charges against the accused is fatally defective because when the charges were filed in 2011, the contract had already been cancelled by the Arroyo government owing to allegations of corruption.