Arroyo brothers cry bias over graft complaintBy Cynthia D. Balana
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The brothers Arroyo on Thursday issued separate statements but spoke as one in assailing the Senate blue ribbon committee for filing a graft complaint against Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo and 18 others.
“Clearly, this is a biased Senate where the law is trampled upon by its whim and prejudice,” former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo said. “I am prepared to dispute the findings in the proper forum where the proper rules of evidence, I am hoping, will be upheld and observed.”
Negros Occidental Representative Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo said that the Senate inquiry into the Philippine National Police’s purchase of secondhand helicopters passed off as new was just for show, and that people knew that most of the senators wanted to link him and his brother to the issue and pin them down.
“[The graft complaint] came as no surprise since from Day One of the Senate hearing, most of the senators, particularly [blue ribbon] chair Teofisto Guingona and [Panfilo] Lacson, have prejudged the case,” he said.
Mike Arroyo, husband of former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said the blue ribbon committee was determined to find him guilty even before it started the inquiry.
“The whole investigation has not been in aid of legislation but a charade to indict us without any solid piece of evidence,” he said.
He suggested that the Senate action was meant to deflect attention from Ronald Llamas, President Aquino’s political adviser, who is being widely criticized for his cache of high-powered firearms.
Iggy Arroyo echoed this, saying the Aquino administration always had something to present against the Arroyos each time there was an issue involving any of its officials, such as Llamas’ firearms.
“Either it’s just a coincidence or an orchestrated move to counter any issues that might pull down [Mr. Aquino’s] popularity, and if we base it on the recent survey findings, it seems to be working,” he said.
Mike Arroyo said the blue ribbon committee established his ownership of the questioned helicopters on hearsay or on a single testimony contradicted by other main witnesses.
He said the committee ignored the documentary evidence showing that he was not the owner.
“Senator Guingona said there was conspiracy in the deal. But how can there be conspiracy when no testimony was made that I talked to the police or used undue advantage or influence for them to purchase the helicopters?” he said.
Iggy Arroyo said he hoped that the Ombudsman would not be influenced by the action of the Senate, whose report, he pointed out, was only recommendatory.
He said it was the first time the Senate had taken it upon itself to file a complaint against anyone.
“It seems our coequal branch is not just a lawmaking body anymore but has likewise taken the role of a fiscal (prosecutor) and judge at the same time,” Iggy Arroyo said, adding:
“They conduct investigations, conduct a pseudo trial using the trimedia, and make conclusions via a press conference. This is a classic case of trial by publicity.”
Former PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa who was among those found liable for the questionable purchase, claimed innocence and expressed confidence that the case would be dismissed by the Ombudsman.
“The blue ribbon committee report is a welcome relief to all of us respondents in the case though it is yet to be approved in plenary. We reiterate our innocence of the charges,” Verzosa said in a statement issued through his lawyer Benjamin delos Santos.
He added: “We will all stand by the public documents at hand notwithstanding any contrary verbal testimonies attributable to the sellers/owners of the choppers. The contract warranties are clear that brand-new units are to be delivered.
“We trust that the Ombudsman can judiciously rule on the issues minus any political motivations of the proponents.”
‘Up to Ombudsman’
The PNP spokesperson, Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz Jr., said it was within the Senate’s rights to file the complaint.
“On our part, we will wait for the law to take its course,” he told reporters at a briefing.
Cruz said it was up to the Ombudsman to consolidate the case with the earlier plunder complaint filed in September by the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group against Mike Arroyo, Verzosa and other retired and active police officials.
Asked if the active officials found liable would be relieved of their posts, he said it would depend on the recommendations of the Ombudsman.
Malacañang also said the matter was now in the Ombudsman’s hands.
“That is [the senators’] recommendation, and we trust that they have enough evidence to [back it],” said Edwin Lacierda, Mr. Aquino’s spokesperson.
‘Up to Senate’
At the House, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said it was up to the Senate to push for the prosecution of Iggy Arroyo based on evidence it had gathered that the congressman had tried to muddle the inquiry.
“I don’t see any need for House action, which is based on what a lawmaker did in this Congress, and not [the previous one]. If they have evidence, [then they should include him in the charges],” Belmonte said in a press conference.
Belmonte also said he was sure that Iggy Arroyo would want his day in court. Reports from DJ Yap and Norman Bordadora
Originally posted at 12:06 am | Friday, October 14, 2011
Tags: Chopper Mess , Government , Graft and Corruption , graft complaint , Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo , Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo , Mike Arroyo , PNP , Police , Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo , Rowena del Rosario , Senate , Senate blue ribbon committee