Lawyer thanks ex-FG Arroyo for Ombudsman 'endorsement'

By David Dizon, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Jun 13 2011 02:55 PM | Updated as of Jun 13 2011 10:55 PM

MANILA, Philippines - An anti-graft lawyer on Monday said the opposition of former First Gentleman Jose Miguel 'Mike' Arroyo to his nomination for Ombudsman could be seen as a ringing endorsement for his bid.

Lawyer Ernesto Francisco said it is Arroyo's right to oppose his nomination after he sued the former First Gentleman for his role in the botched National Broadband Network (NBN) deal with China's ZTE Corp.

Francisco also filed a case against the Arroyo administration's use of government funds for political ads in the May 2010 elections.

"Modesty aside, [Arroyo's opposition] should be considered a qualification because I would not be steadfast in my duty as a lawyer if I see these things happening and did nothing," he told radio dzMM.

Francisco said he sued Arroyo because it was clear in the evidence and testimonies presented at the Senate hearings that he knew and was part of those who pushed for that deal.

The $329-million NBN-ZTE contract was discontinued by President Arroyo after a Senate investigation revealed that the deal was overpriced.

The lawyer said his lawsuit questioning the Arroyo government's spending on political ads led to millions of pesos in savings especially after Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago did her own investigation on the expenditures.

Francisco is scheduled to undergo an interview before the Judicial and Bar Council on June 27.

He said that if he is appointed Ombudsman, he will remain impartial and independent and will not hesitate to file cases against government officials linked to corruption even if they are friends of the current administration.