Philippine court enters not-guilty plea in Arroyo's $8m corruption case



MANILA // A Philippine court entered a not-guilty plea yesterday for the country's former president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, on charges she misused US$8.8 million (Dh31b) in state lottery funds in the third corruption case against her.

Ms Arroyo is suffering from a neck ailment, and police brought her to the anti-corruption court from a military hospital. She was admitted days before the court served the arrest warrant against her on plunder charges early this month, and ordered her confined under guard.

Ms Arroyo, 65, appeared in a wheelchair and wore a neck brace with a pink scarf. She refused to enter a plea and prompted the judge to record a not-guilty plea on her behalf.

Nine other people, mostly former officials of the state lottery agency, also are charged in the case. They allegedly conspired with Ms Arroyo during her last years in office to divert public funds for her personal gain.

If found guilty, they could face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Ms Arroyo's lawyers say the witnesses against her had no personal knowledge of the transactions of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. They have appealed to the country's supreme court to have the case dismissed.

Ms Arroyo finished her tumultuous nine-year term in 2010. Since then, she has been separately charged with vote fraud and in another corruption case but posted bail.

She had already spent eight months under hospital arrest before she was discharged in June.

Ms Arroyo has accused her successor, Benigno Aquino III, of pursuing a political vendetta. Ms Aquino was overwhelmingly elected on a promise to rid the Philippines of corruption and has vowed to prosecute Ms Arroyo and her inner circle, blaming them for stealing money for personal gain and for a culture of impunity in which corrupt practices flourished.

The government has already denied Ms Arroyo's request to seek medical treatment abroad, saying she may not return to face the charges.

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The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

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The low down on MPS

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Releasing these nodules requires a hands-on technique that involves applying gentle ­sustained pressure to release muscular shortness and tightness. This eliminates restrictions in ­connective tissue in orderto restore motion and alleviate pain. ­Therapy balls have proven effective at causing enough commotion in the tissue, prompting the release of these hard knots.

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1987

1954

1921

1888

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Kevin Anderson v Hyeon Chung 4pm

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Women's exhibition

Serena Williams v Venus Williams 8pm

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5th place play-off 3pm

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Rafael Nadal v Anderson/Chung 5pm

Novak Djokovic v Thiem/Khachanov 7pm

Saturday December 29

3rd place play-off 5pm

Men's final 7pm

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
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Are non-fungible tokens a currency, asset, or a licensing instrument? Arnab Das, global market strategist EMEA at Invesco, says they are mix of all of three.

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Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
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Industry: FinTech
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2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

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Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto 

Speed: 0-100kph in 6.2sec 

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Fuel consumption: 10.7L/100km 

On sale: May or June 

Price: From Dh259,900  

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The specs

Price, base / as tested Dh960,000
Engine 3.9L twin-turbo V8
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Power 661hp @8,000rpm
Torque 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined 11.4L / 100k

Six tips to secure your smart home

Most smart home devices are controlled via the owner's smartphone. Therefore, if you are using public wi-fi on your phone, always use a VPN (virtual private network) that offers strong security features and anonymises your internet connection.

Keep your smart home devices’ software up-to-date. Device makers often send regular updates - follow them without fail as they could provide protection from a new security risk.

Use two-factor authentication so that in addition to a password, your identity is authenticated by a second sign-in step like a code sent to your mobile number.

Set up a separate guest network for acquaintances and visitors to ensure the privacy of your IoT devices’ network.

Change the default privacy and security settings of your IoT devices to take extra steps to secure yourself and your home.

Always give your router a unique name, replacing the one generated by the manufacturer, to ensure a hacker cannot ascertain its make or model number.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Carzaty, now Kavak
Based: Dubai
Launch year: Carzaty launched in 2018, Kavak in the GCC launched in 2022
Number of employees: 140
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Funding: Carzaty raised $6m in equity and $4m in debt; Kavak plans $130m investment in the GCC

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
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1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat 

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Starring: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe

Four stars