- The Fourth Division of the Sandiganbayan has approved the demurrer to evidence submitted by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, effectively dismissing the last two graft cases filed against her in relation to the NBN-ZTE deal
- In the resolution released by the court, it said that the prosecution failed to prove Arroyo's guilt beyond reasonable doubt
- According to Arroyo's lawyer, Atty. Lawrence Arroyo, these two cases were weak, just like the first ones that were already dismissed before
The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division has approved the demurrer to evidence submitted by the camp of former President and Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in relation to the last of the graft and corruption cases filed against her.
The anti-graft court dismissed the evidence presented by the prosecution because it failed to prove Arroyo’s guilt in the anomalies surrounding the 2007 National Broadband Network (NBN) contract with Chinese firm ZTE, otherwise known as the NBN-ZTE project, beyond a reasonable doubt .
In the resolution signed by Division Chairman and Associate Justice Jose Hernandez and members Associate Justices Alex Quiroz and Geraldine Econg, it says, “Wherefore, in its entirety, the evidence adduced by the prosecution … did not sufficiently prove the guilt of accused Ma. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and this court hereby grants accused’s demurrer to evidence. These cases are then dismissed.”
In the NBN-ZTE case, Arroyo was charged with two counts of graft for allegedly violating Sections 3(g) and 3(i) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when she allegedly fast-tracked the approval of the NBN project and approved it for personal gain despite being disadvantageous to the government.
Gloria was also charged due to her violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees or Republic Act 6713 for having lunch and playing golf with ZTE officials while the broadband project proposal was still being assessed; and Section 7(d) of the Code of Conduct which penalizes solicitation or acceptance of gifts in connection with any transaction of government.
In a statement released by Arroyo's camp, her lawyer, Atty. Lawrence Arroyo had expressed their gratitude to "the Sandiganbayan for granting the demurrers" for the third time, effectively dropping all of the charges against Gloria relating to the ZTE cases.
Atty. Arroyo said, "We are thankful to the Sandiganbayan for granting our demurrers in the three ZTE cases. It’s a well-reasoned decision. I encourage the public to read it."
According to Atty. Arroyo, the Supreme Court had granted Gloria's petition to dismiss her plunder case over the alleged misuse of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) charity funds amounting to P366 million during her term as President from 2008 to 2010.
"Former President Arroyo has been vindicated anew,” he added.
Read the full statement from the lawyer of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo here:
Together with Rep. Gloria Arroyo, former Commission on Election (COMELEC) chair Benjamin Abalos and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri’s graft cases were also dismissed.
However, the star witness in the NBN-ZTE scandal, Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada Jr., was convicted of graft and sentenced to 10 years in jail over an anomalous land deal that he has undertaken during his time as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Philippine Forest Corp. (PFC) in 2007 and 2008.