Former first gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo quietly left the country early Thursday.
Arroyo flew to Japan via Hong Kong aboard Cathay Pacific flight CX 904, which departed at 6:20 a.m.
His embarkation card showed his final destination was Narita International Airport and he was billeted at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.
Airport authorities said the husband of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was seen at the departure area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 as early as 3:45 a.m.
They said Arroyo went through normal security procedures like the other passengers.
Arroyo walked through the initial security screener without escorts. He proceeded to the business class check-in counter of Cathay Pacific, then to the terminal fee counter.
He then proceeded to the immigration counter where he presented his passport, ticket, departure card and a copy of a Sandiganbayan order allowing him to travel to Japan and Hong Kong.
Airport authorities said Arroyo waited for his flight at the Cathay Pacific lounge.
A female airport employee said Arroyo agreed to requests from some passengers to have their pictures taken with him.
“Some kids had their pictures taken with him and he was accommodating,” she said.
Arroyo is facing graft charges in connection with the $329-million national broadband network deal that his wife’s administration signed in 2007 with the Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE Corp.
Last month, the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division granted his petition to be allowed to travel to Japan
Arroyo said he was going to meet with Japanese businessmen involved in hydroelectric operations and get some much needed rest.
Arroyo promised to return to the Philippines on May 10. He told reporters he was entitled to a presumption of innocence while the graft case was being heard and that he still had constitutional right to travel.
Originally posted at 01:54 pm | Thursday, May 03, 2012