Ex-lawmaker on his way to SONA nabbed for libel

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Former Senior Citizen Partylist Rep. Godofredo Arquiza (congress.gov.ph photo)

MANILA, Philippines —A former party-list representative, who was on his way to the Batasan Complex on Monday morning for President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address, was arrested by the police for libel based on a warrant issued by a provincial court.

Former Senior Citizen Partylist Representative Godofredo Arquiza was arrested by operatives of the Quezon City Police District warrant section at around 9 a.m., while he was onboard his white Toyota Hi-Ace van leaving Hobart Village along Zabarte Road, Barangay (village) Kaligayahan in Novaliches.

Arquiza, a member of the 15th Congress, had planned to attend the President’s SONA at the House of Representatives at the Batasan Complex.

QCPD personnel served on Arquiza an arrest warrant for two counts of libel issued by Batangas City regional trial court branch 2 Judge Maria Cecilia Chua.

The former representative was then brought to the QCPD headquarters in Camp Karingal for booking.

The libel charges stemmed from complaints filed two years ago by his party-list colleagues, Francisco Datol Jr. and Plut Vazquez, over his May 30, 2011 privilege speech.

Arquiza, in that speech, had allegedly made defamatory remarks against Datol, Vazquez and other members of the group.

The ex-representative alleged that Datol, a third nominee of the group, and his faction at the Senior Citizen partylist had allegedly made maneuvers in 2010 in an attempt to get the second nominee, David Kho, disqualified and gain for himself a seat in Congress.

Only two representatives from the Senior Citizen partylist were proclaimed by the Commission on Elections in 2010.

In his speech, Arquiza had also allegedly claimed that Kho agreed to a “term-sharing” with Datol and offered to resign on Dec. 31, 2011 to give way to the third nominee. But moves to disqualify him preceded the resignation date.

Arquiza allegedly also compared Datol’s group to a criminal syndicate from which the lawsuit arose.

The Comelec had previously disqualified the Senior Citizen partylist, which received over 600,000 votes and placed tenth in the May 13 midterm elections.

But the Supreme Court intervened and ordered, in its status quo ante order, for the poll body to reserve a seat for the partylist although holding in abeyance the group’s proclamation pending the resolution of their petition contesting the disqualification.

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