The prosecution said it was able to prove allegations against former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in connection with the botched $329-million national broadband deal (NBN) deal.
The prosecution made this assertion as it asked the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division to deny Arroyo’s request to let her file a motion that will seek dismissal of the case on the ground that the prosecution “failed” to meet the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt.
“In closing, the evidence presented by the prosecution established beyond reasonable doubt the presence of all the elements of the crime charged accused-movant. Unless there are competent and strong countervailing pieces of evidence to rebut the same, the granting of the Motion For Leave To File Demurrer To Evidence is just an exercise in futility,” the prosecution said in an Omnibus Opposition.
The opposition was made in response to motions filed by Arroyo, her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo and former Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr. asking the court to let them file a demurrer to evidence in the graft case docketed as SB11-CRM-0467.
The case is for violation of Section 3(g) of Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits public officers from entering, on behalf of the government, into any contract or transaction that is manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government.
A demurrer is a motion to dismiss filed by a defendant after the prosecution completes its turn to present evidence on the ground that the evidence does not warrant conviction.
If a demurrer is thumbed down, the defense would have to present its own evidence.
The prosecution argued that “ample documents and witnesses proved” that the actual cost of Chinese firm ZTE’s proposal for the project was only $130 million and was eventually “overpriced” at $329 million and that it covered only 30 percent of the country compared with the proposal of Amsterdam Holdings Inc. (AHI) that would cover 80 percent at less cost.
It said the fact that Arroyo canceled the deal “merely shows its grossly disadvantageous nature.”
“The evidence of this fact is so glaring that unless the defense can present evidence to the contrary, an eventual conviction is a certainty,” the prosecution added.
It also maintained that the contract was admissible as evidence because it was able to mark, identify and formally offer the same as evidence and that the contract was identified by the witness and duly reflected in the records of the case.
Arroyo also has a similar motion for permission to file a demurrer in case numbers 0468 to 0469, which are for violation of Section 3(i) of RA 3019 and Section 7(d) of RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, respectively, where she is sole respondent.
The prosecution also opposed this move.
In the case for violation of Section 3(i) of the anti-graft law, Arroyo allegedly became interested for personal gain in the approval of the deal.
According to her camp, the prosecution failed to prove the supposed haste with which the deal was approved by the government, saying she did not fast-track the NBN project’s approval because it went through several layers of review.
It said that the prosecution also failed to prove that she knew of Abalos’ alleged attempt to bribe former National Economic and Development Authority Director General Romulo Neri with P200 million for the immediate approval of the ZTE proposal.
But the prosecution maintained that it was able to prove that Abalos supposedly brokered for ZTE to bag the deal and that Arroyo approved the deal after she and several others including Abalos had lunch and played golf with the firm’s officials.
“All these facts lead to only one conclusion that indeed accused-movant became interested in the NBN-ZTE transaction for personal gain,” it said.