Solon want ‘witch hunters’ vs GMA

PNS — TO ensure stronger cases against ex-President Arroyo, various groups were urged yesterday to parti-cipate in building-up the charges against the former chief executive.

Quezon Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III, spokesman of the Liberal Party, said the public should help provide documents and evidence that would help strengthen the cases against the former President who is now represen-ting the second district of Pampanga.

“Building-up the charges should be pushed, various groups must help to make these cases stronger,” said Tañada a day after Bayan Muna Reps. Teodoro “Teddy” Casiño and Neri Colmenares filed a string of criminal cases against Mrs. Arroyo before the Department of Justice in connection with the botched $329 million National Broadband Network deal with China’s ZTE Corporation Inc.

Tañada also supported the decision of the two lawmakers to file the cases at the DoJ instead of going to the Office of the Ombudsman.

“I agree with their decision to go to the Department of Justice because of the perceived closeness of Ombudsman (Ma. Merceditas) Gutierrez to the (former) First Family,” said Tañada.

Casiño and Colmenares said Mrs. Arroyo ordered or at the very least induced then National Economic Development Authority Director-General Romulo Neri, now the president of the Social Security System, and other public officials to approve ZTE’s contract for the NBN project despite the supposed bribery and other irregularities affecting it.

The two charged that Mrs. Arroyo purportedly received material benefits from the ZTE contract when she played golf at the ZTE headquarters in China and other material considerations.

They charged that Mrs. Arroyo allegedly neglected to investigate the irregularities involved in the ZTE contract and even pursued it so it may be consummated.

The Sandiganbayan Fourth and Fifth Divisions have scheduled to arraign Neri and ex-Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr. on July 16 and 20 respectively for allegedly violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Whistleblower Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, the prosecution listed Neri, former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., Joey de Venecia III, columnist Jarius Bondoc, engineer Dante Madriaga and others as witnesses against Abalos while the prosecution named Lozada, de Venecia III and others as witnesses against Neri.