Belmonte shrugs off Arroyo suspension

Posted at 07/01/14 6:50 PM

MANILA - House Speaker Sonny Belmonte on Tuesday said the suspension of Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has no practical effect.

"She is unable to attend sessions anyway," Belmonte said. "I am having the secretary-general check the precedents. At the very least, (I) will consults other House leaders. In practical ways, it's already implemented because she cannot attend anyway."

The former President's husband, lawyer Mike Arroyo, said his wife still enjoys presumption of innocence.

This, after she was ordered suspended from her congressional post.

Arroyo said he has not seen the suspension order yet.

"I don't even know if our side has been heard already. Besides, PGMA is innocent until proven guilty. So why punish her if even the House has not suspended her?" he said.

Arroyo noted the timing of the suspension. "It seems they had to do that to cover up the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) loss today, and to lay the premise for the suspension of the senators."

The Sandiganbayan suspended the Pampanga lawmaker for 90 days.

The 4th division, headed by Justice Gregory Ong, found valid the information for graft charges filed against Arroyo in connection with the botched National Broadband Network (NBN) deal with Chinese telecommunications firm, ZTE Corp.

The motion for suspension was filed in 2012.

The suspension is mandatory under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act in order to prevent the accused from using his or her office to influence his or her case.

Arroyo is under hospital arrest for a separate case, allegedly for plunder of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.