MANILA, Philippines – Former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was suspended by the Sandiganbayan for 90 days for the graft case she is facing in connection with the Chinese telecommunication firm, ZTE Corp. National Broadband Network (NBN), deal anomaly.
The order, addressed directly to Arroyo, was released yesterday, July 1, by the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division chaired by Associate Justice Gregory Ong.
In its four-page resolution, the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division ordered Arroyo “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 she may now or hereafter be holding, effective upon notice hereof and continuing for a period of 90 days.”
Though House Representative Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. was tasked to implement the suspension order, it was addressed directly to Arroyo, who is presently detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) for a separate plunder case before the Sandiganbayan First Division for her alleged role in the misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.
Belmonte said the suspension order has no practical effect since Arroyo was already detained.
Moreover, former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr., former Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza, and former First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo were also named in one of the graft charges.
However, Mike described the suspension as “bothersome” and questioned the timing of the release of the order.
“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,” Mike said via GMA Network.
The charges against the former president involve violations of Sections 3-G and 3-I of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act 3019) as well as provisions of the Code of Conduct of and Ethical Standards of Government Officials and Employees (RA 6713).
-KLYTE FAYE VELOSO
LNU ABCom Intern