Gov’t officials disagree on authenticity of Arroyo mug shots in Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The mug shots of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are stirring a hornet’s nest, as government officials alternately gave conflicting statements on the authenticity of the set of three pictures published Tuesday by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Interior Secretary Jesse M. Robredo insisted the photos, which were posted by INQUIRER.net on Monday evening, were not the same as the official mug shots submitted by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to the court.
INQUIRER.net posted a screen grab of the photos from mugshots.com.
“The photos are valueless,” the official said. “The mug shots that appeared in the front page of the Inquirer today are not the actual mug shots,” he said.
Robredo called the Inquirer Tuesday morning to issue the clarification, reiterating the government line that it was up to the courts to release the authentic mug shots.
He said he had seen the actual mug shots after he made a request to be given “my copy” and was positive that these were not the same as the photographs sent to the Inquirer and to the website.
Robredo said some of the information on the mug shots had only been “superimposed,” and “anyone can do that on Photoshop.”
Initially he declined to specify the differences between the supposed fakes and the official mug shots, but he later said the booking number was different and the images of Arroyo were “not exactly the same.”
But when told that Southern Police District officer in charge Senior Superintendent Jaime Bucayu had said in interviews that the photos were authentic, Robredo retorted that Bucayu did not have the authority to speak.
“How could he talk about something he doesn’t know about?” Robredo said.
Joel Pelicano, clerk of court of the Pasay Regional Trial Court Branch 112, on Tuesday authenticated the mug shots.
In a radio interview, Pelicano said the photos he viewed via INQUIRER.net were “almost the same” as the ones the police submitted to the sala of Branch 112 presiding Judge Jesus Mupas on Monday morning.
He said the only difference was the text below the photos, which contained the case reference number.
Asked if he thought the mug shots served some political purpose, Robredo said: “Maybe. But it is not the administration who is responsible for it.”
The photographs, taken frontally and sideways, show Arroyo wearing a neck brace after police formally placed her under temporary hospital arrest for electoral sabotage, a charge now pending in the Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 112.
Soon after Inquirer editors obtained copies of the photos Monday, the same pictures, apparently from other sources, also appeared on mugshots.com.
But Robredo said he saw no point in releasing the actual photos despite public clamor.
In 2001, a photograph of Joseph Estrada also appeared in the media, taken after he was detained on plunder charges. The publication of Estrada’s picture occurred, ironically, during the Arroyo presidency.
Robredo said “this is a different government now.”
“Public documents are released for a certain purpose. But (if the Arroyo mug shots are to be released) for what good? If it is only to satisfy public demand, that’s not a good enough reason,” he said.
Robredo said the release of the mug shots would depend solely on the Pasay court hearing Arroyo’s case and “this is not conditional on our part.”
Originally posted at 10:10 am | Tuesday, November 22, 2011
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