Arroyo Posts Bail In ZTE Contract Case

MANILA, Philippines - Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo posted bail Friday before the Sandiganbayan for the three criminal offenses she faces in connection with the $329-million national broadband network (NBN) deal.

Mrs. Arroyo posted the P70,000 bail through her lawyer Laurence Arroyo, 11 days after the graft court's Fourth division issued an arrest warrant for her, her husband Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo, former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr., and former Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza over alleged kickbacks from the Chinese firm Zhongxing Telecommunication Equipment (ZTE) for the approval of the contract.

Arroyo approved the deal which was later cancelled amid public furor and a congressional inquiry.

The court had granted Mrs. Arroyo's request to accomplish her bail application from her detention quarters at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City.

She is awaiting trial for electoral fraud in another case before a Pasay City court.

The minute resolution, signed by Associate Justices Jose Hernandez, Ma. Cristina Cornejo and Gregory Ong, division chair, directed Arroyo to post bail within five days.

The court took cognizance of the prosecution's manifestation favoring the former president's request to accomplish her bail application from Veterans to speed up the process, lessen risk and for "humanitarian reasons."

Joffre Gil Zapata, clerk of court, said court personnel, might drive out to the hospital to fingerprint and photograph Arroyo and administer the signing of the bail.

"We are still awaiting a directive from the justices. If the order [to go to Veterans] is not issued anytime today, most likely we will do the process on Monday," Zapata said.

The former president has been indicted for violating sections 3(g) and 3(i) of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-graft law) for having "unusual interest" in the contract.

She was also separately charged with violation of section 7(d) of RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees for playing golf and having lunch with ZTE officials in the company's head office in China.

Mike Arroyo and Mendoza had each posted bail of P30,000 for the graft charges relating to the same contract.

On Wednesday night, members of the minority bloc in the House of Representatives visited Arroyo and gave her an early present for her 65th birthday on April 5.

House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said he and his colleagues wanted to boost Arroyo's spirits before the House goes on Lenten break starting today until May 6.

Suarez said Arroyo seemed to have lost weight and aged, and was looking frail.

Arroyo continues to suffer from a spine ailment, which had partially immobilized her and caused her hospitalization.

"She is still complaining of the pain in her spine in spite of a slight improvement in her spinal column, Suarez said.

House Deputy Minority Leader Ma. Milagros Magsaysay said Aquino's nurse told her that the former president and now Pampanga representative "has been feeling discomfort. She is complaining of back pains all over."

Mrs. Arroyo underwent three surgeries last year due to her problematic spine.