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Sandigan orders arrest of the Arroyos over NBN-ZTE deal

MANILA, Philippines - The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division has ordered the arrest of former President and now Pampanga Rep.Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and three others stemming from an alleged graft-ridden $329.4-million National Broadband Network deal with the Chinese company ZTE Corp.

Also ordered arrested were Arroyo's husband, Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo, former Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr. and former Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza.

The Office of the Ombudsman in December filed the graft case against the accused before the Sandiganbayan. Graft or violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act is a bailable offense.

Ferdinand Topacio, a lawyer of the Arroyos, said they were suprised by the issuance of an arrest warrant by the Sandiganbayan.

"We asked for a hearing to determine probable cause on this case, so we were surprised about the arrest warrant," Topacio said in a television interview.

The lawyer said the case was defective because the deal never pushed through.

"There is already a Supreme Court ruling that stated that if a deal did not push through, then there could have been no damage to the government," Topacio said.

Both Mrs. Arroyo and Abalos are presently detained for their alleged involvement in the non-bailable offense of poll fraud in the 2010 elections. (From