GMA, First Gentleman cleared in ZTE deal

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman has cleared President Arroyo and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo of graft in connection with the botched $329-million national broadband network (NBN) deal with ZTE Corp. of China, but indicted former elections chief Benjamin Abalos and Social Security System president Romulo Neri.

The ruling came two years after businessman Jose de Venecia III, son and namesake of the former House speaker, exposed the alleged anomalies in the deal and implicated the First Gentleman and Abalos.

Details of alleged wheeling and dealing, multimillion-dollar bribes, and even a murder attempt surfaced during several tension-filled Senate hearings.

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