Arroyo suspended for 90 days over graft case

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014


MANILA (Updated) -- The Sandiganbayan fourth division suspended for 90 days on Tuesday former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as representative of Pampanga's second district over graft charges in connection with the NBN-ZTE deal.

"Accused Ma. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is ordered suspended from office pendent lite and said accused is hereby directed to cease and desist from performing and/or exercising the functions and duties, as well as receiving and/or enjoying the salaries, benefits, and privileges of her present public position or any other public office or position he may now or hereafter be holding, effective upon notice hereof and continuing for a period of ninety days," the decision read.

The former President has been charged with two counts of graft and one count of violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees for allegedly having unlawful interest in the $329-million National Broadband Network (NBN) project and for using the power of the presidency to push for the approval of the proposal submitted by the China's ZTE Corporation.

Arroyo's co-accused in the graft charges were former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr., and the late Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza.

The decision, which reached the office of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. late afternoon Tuesday for implementation, was signed by Sandiganbayan fourth division chairperson Associate Justice Gregory Ong and Justices Jose Hernandez and Maria Cristina Cornejo.

Ong is currently under fire and has been recommended for dismissal by the Supreme Court (SC) after an investigation ordered by the high tribunal confirmed his close ties with Janet Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) anomaly.

"The Honorable Speaker of the House of Representatives shall enforce this suspension order. He, or his duly authorized representative, shall apprise this court in writing within five days from notice of the action taken to enforce this resolution, including the actual date when the accused public officer commenced to serve her suspension and the expiration of the ninety-day period of suspension, at which time such suspension shall be deemed automatically lifted and set aside," the order said.

Reacting to the suspension of his wife as legislator, Mr. Arroyo said "that's bothersome, but that's (suspension) not within their (Sandiganbayan) jurisdiction. From what I know, such matters are exclusively within the jurisdiction and prerogative of the House according its rules."

"I'm just suspicious of the timing after the SC handed down its ruling on the DAP," he said, referring to the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), whose some key provisions were declared unconstitutional by the SC on Tuesday. (Sunnex)

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