MANILA, Philippines?Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel ?Mikey? Arroyo may have found himself in deeper trouble following an early morning TV interview about his ballooning net worth and P63.7-million beachfront property in the United States.
Clips of his Tuesday interview with GMA 7?s ?Unang Hirit? were uploaded to the video-sharing website YouTube, triggering nasty comments?many of them apparently not fit for newspaper publication?from angry Web users.
One viewer described the lawmaker as ?the world?s dum... criminal.?
?(Mikey) sucks at defending himself. If he is in court, he?ll be (cited) for contempt for utter stu...,? another commented.
Another viewer said Mikey ?hanged himself on national TV? with the way he explained how his net worth jumped from P5 million in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) in 2002 to P99 million last year.
?Take note of (his) facial expressions and the tone of his voice. Talagang sinu. . . (He?s really a li...),? one viewer said.
?Another stu... son of a corrupt politician. This is exactly what happens when you have a big f_ _ _ing ego to go on air to show everyone how much assets you try to hide,? said another. ?Mikey, isa kang ... (you?re st...)!?
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita Wednesday said the Palace was confident that the eldest son of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, herself under scrutiny for her growing wealth while in office, could answer the issue ?adequately to the satisfaction of everybody.?
How to earn millions
But Web users were not satisfied with his explanation when they saw the two-part video clip, titled ?Mikey Arroyo on Media Suicide with Igan & Winnie Monsod?How Do You Earn Millions??
The clips were viewed 8,888 times as of Wednesday afternoon and solicited a total of 258 comments.
In the interview, broadcaster and economist Winnie Monsod, armed with copies of Mikey?s SALNs, confronted the congressman on how he accumulated all his wealth given his salary as a government employee.
YouTube viewers noticed how the lawmaker repeatedly tried to ?dodge? the question only to be cornered by Monsod each time.
Gifts, campaign contributions
Finally in the second clip, a seemingly exasperated Mikey said: ?Let?s put it this way. Alam nyo kasi, syempre unang-una, kinasal tayo. Medyo nagkaroon tayo ng maraming regalo. Tapos pag kampanya, eh syempre, kahit paano, maraming tumutulong sa atin (You know, first of all, I got married. I received lots of gifts. Then in the election campaign, somehow, many people helped me).?
Mikey, a Pampanga representative since 2004, said this was how his net worth increased from P76.9 million in 2005 to P99 million in 2008.
He said his P5-million net worth in his 2002 SALN was inaccurate and had been corrected the following year.
?So is it legal to pocket the money intended as campaign donation? Magna...!? commented one Web user.
Earlier in the interview, Mikey acknowledged that he owned the property at 1655 Beach Park Boulevard in Foster City, San Mateo County, in the San Francisco bay area in California.
Limited liability company
Mikey said it was owned by a company called Beach Way Park LLC (limited liability company) of which he and his family owned some 40 percent in shares.
In the United States, LLCs are small businesses similar to single proprietorships in the Philippines. They can be set up with just one person as shareholder.
Mikey refused to identify the other shareholders in the company even to dispel speculations that they were merely acting as ?dummies.?
?Stop saying it?s my house. It?s a house owned by Beach Way which I?m a shareholder of,? the lawmaker, appearing incensed and uneasy, told Monsod and co-anchor Arnold Clavio.
Burden of proof on Mikey
?You know what, the law is very clear,? Monsod told Mikey. ?If there is a problem, when there is a question of unexplained wealth here, the burden of proof is with you, with the government employee.?
Monsod added: ?It can?t be that (we) have to prove that (you) are guilty. No, the government employee should prove that he is innocent. That?s precisely the whole objective of having a statement of assets and liabilities.?
Mikey?s appearance on the TV show stemmed from a report of Vera Files, a group of investigative reporters, that the eldest son of the President did not report in his SALN for the last two years the $1.32-million (P63.7-million) house in Foster City that he bought and transferred to his wife Angela in 2006. They got married in 2002.
Vera Files also reported that Mikey?s brother, Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado Ignacio ?Dato? Arroyo, also acquired a house in the United States after he won a seat in Congress in 2007.
But unlike Mikey, Dato declared ownership of a 70-square-meter unit at the luxury full-service Gramercy Towers in San Francisco in his SALN for 2008. Dato and his wife, Victoria Celina Manotok, bought the property for P26.7 million.
Mikey said Tuesday that his family could afford to buy real estate in the United States.