Sandiganbayan dismisses NBN-ZTE graft case vs Arroyo

MANILA, Philippines -- The Sandiganbayan anti-graft court has dismissed graft cases against Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo over the allegedly anomalous National Broadband Network deal signed while she was president.
The court granted Arroyo's demurrer to evidence, a motion to dismiss a case based on insufficiency of the evidence presented by the prosecution, saying the prosecution "did not sufficiently prove the guilt of the accused."
Laurence Arroyo, the former president's counsel, told reporters that Arroyo has been "vindicated anew."
He said that Rep. Arroyo "has always kept her faith in the judiciary and our courts have not failed to fearlessly render justice."
He added the granting of the demurrers prove that the cases filed against the former Arroyo were weak.

'Persecution, not prosecution'

In July, the Supreme Court dismissed a graft case against her over her alleged misuse of P366 million in intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.  She was released from hospital arrest at the Veterans' Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City on July 21. She had been detained at the VMMC since 2012.
In June, Arroyo's lawyers asked the anti-graft court to dismiss the case -- the last graft case she is facing -- claiming that prosecutors failed to prove that the contract signed with China's ZTE Corp. in 2007 was grossly disadvantageous to the government for allegedly being overpriced.
Her camp said that Arroyo did not facilitate or fast-track the approval of the project to put up a government communications network since it went through a proper review process by the National Economic and Development Authority.
“This is a clear case of persecution rather than prosecution. The NEDA board unanimously approved the NBN project upon the recommendation of the NEDA Infrastructure staff, NEDA ICC secretariat and NEDA technical board,” Arroyo’s lawyers said in June.
“Yet, the ombudsman maliciously singled out the former president for approving a contract that is supposedly grossly disadvantageous to the government. It is the NEDA board, not the president of the Philippines, which has the power to approve projects such as the NBN project,” they said.

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