Arroyo wants NBN-ZTE graft cases dismissed

Carolyn Bonquin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 10 2016 05:25 PM

Former President and Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. File

MANILA - Former President and Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is seeking the dismissal of her ongoing graft cases at the Sandiganbayan over the allegedly anomalous National Broadband Network-ZTE telecommunications deal.

In separate motions submitted through her lawyers Atty. Laurence Arroyo and Atty. Howard Lanete, Arroyo asked for the anti-graft court's permission to allow her to file a leave to submit a demurrer to evidence.

The pleading came after the prosecution rested its case on March 1, 2016.

Based on the witnesses and pieces of evidence presented, Arroyo said the prosecution fell short in proving her guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

The former president cited the prosecutors' failure to present the original and complete NBN contract, as the document showed before the court lacked several attachments.

She added the contract was not evidence since it was cancelled on October 2, 2007, and none of the conditions set was fulfilled.

Prosecutors also allegedly failed to prove that she had personal interest in the contract and that she had knowledge of the former poll chairman Benjamin Abalos' supposed attempt to bribe then Economic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri with P200 million for the immediate approval of the ZTE proposal.

Last May, Abalos was acquitted of graft in connection with the case.

READ: Abalos not guilty of graft in NBN-ZTE deal

The prosecution also allegedly failed to prove that the NBN contract was disadvantageous to the government, Arroyo claimed.

The motion said a witness from NEDA testified that the contract was a reasonable investment. She also argued that the ZTE's 15-year re-payment period was less costly.

The prosecution also allegedly failed to prove the former president solicited a lunch or a golf game from ZTE. She added that the value of the supposed lunch and golf game from ZTE was insignificant to influence the deal.

"It is absurd to suggest that the fee for the golf game (and the lunch were) given in anticipation of or in exchange for the granting of a multi-billion peso project," the motion read.

Arroyo also saw nothing wrong in her presence in the signing of the NBN-ZTE contract.

"There is no such thing as an 'unnecessary presence' by the President of the Republic of the Philippines at a contract signing where one of the contracting parties is the Republic of the Philippines, especially when the contract involves a multi-billion national project and where the counter-party is a company owned by China, an important trading partner of the Philippines," the motion read.

"President Benigno Aquino III himself has appeared at many such contract signings."