Arroyo faces trial over NBN-ZTE deal

Posted at 08/06/12 1:00 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Former President and now Pampanga 2nd District congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will face trial on October 1 for approving the $329-million national broadband network (NBN) deal with China's ZTE Corp.

The Office of the Ombudsman sued Mrs. Arroyo for violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, saying that the NBN contract was grossly overpriced.

Her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, former elections chief Benjamin Abalos, and former Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza are co-accused in the case.

The Ombudsman said Mrs. Arroyo was directly or indirectly interested in the NBN transaction for personal gain. It said Mrs. Arroyo accepted gifts and favors from ZTE officials while the deal was being hammered out.

Mrs. Arroyo went to the Sandiganbayan Monday morning for her pre-trial hearing but the justices excused her, citing her condition.

Her spokesperson, Elena Bautista Horn, said doctors advised against Mrs. Arroyo going to the hearing but she attended anyway out of respect for the court.

The former president was excused after making sure she had a signed special power of attorney for her lawyers.