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Senate holds Ligots in contempt

Ex-general arrested; wife’s detention suspended

By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:06:00 03/25/2011

Filed Under: Military, Graft & Corruption, Congress, Legal issues

MANILA, Philippines?For snubbing the inquiry into military corruption without justifiable reason, ex-military comptroller Jacinto Ligot and his wife Erlinda have been cited in contempt by the Senate.

The former general was immediately arrested Thursday night in a military housing village in Taguig City and is now in Senate custody.

However, the arrest and detention order for Erlinda has been suspended for ?humanitarian reasons? because of her health, said Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee.

After mustering the required votes, the committee Thursday ordered the Senate sergeant-at-arms to enforce the contempt order on Ligot and arrest and detain him ?until such time that he will appear and give his testimony.?

Through their lawyers, the Ligots informed the committee that they could not attend the hearing for health reasons. But a Senate doctor visited them at home and found them to be healthy enough to appear at the hearing.

After the hearing finished past noon, Guingona routed for signing the contempt order for the Ligot couple.

By 5 p.m., Guingona and Senators Ralph Recto, Gregorio Honasan II, Francis Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Sergio Osmeña III, Pia Cayetano, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Juan Miguel Zubiri had signed the order. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada also signed as ex-officio members.

Malingering

In the order, Guingona said that Ligot has in effect, delayed, impeded and obstructed the inquiry by skipping the hearing due to an illness that turned out to be false.

Earlier, the Zulueta, Puno and Ferrer Law Offices wrote to the committee to say that Erlinda was suffering from severe palpitations and acute gastroenteritis while Jacinto was down with flu, and could therefore not attend the hearing.

Enrile then ordered the Senate doctor, Mariano Blancia, to go to the Ligots? home to check on their condition.

Blancia told the committee that he found Erlinda, who was recovering from diarrhea, and Jacinto, who took medications for flu, to be both ?normal? after examining them.

?Of the two, he?s more healthy to attend the hearing. His health condition is better. Both could have attended,? he said.

Enrile said he regretted that ?the Senate must exercise our coercive power to see to it that this institution will function properly as an instrument of the people for good, not for evil, to exact obedience if necessary, in order that it can function properly as Senate of the Philippines?.

Cars for deputies

At Thursday?s hearing, Colonels Cirilo Thomas Donato Jr. and Antonio Lim admitted receiving second-hand cars from the then military comptroller George Rabusa between 2000 and 2002. Both had served as Rabusa?s deputies.

Donato said he had no knowledge of corruption in the office of the comptroller.

Enrile grilled former Armed Forces Chief Diomedio Villanueva and Rabusa on why they had to convert military funds into cash, but the latter failed to answer him satisfactorily.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) Thursday said Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Edilberto Sandoval should inhibit himself or be disqualified from the ex-military comptroller Carlos Garcia?s plunder case, as Sandoval?s son is a member of the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) that had entered into a plea bargain with Garcia.

Sandoval?s son, Rex Reynaldo Sandoval, is an assistant special prosecutor of the OSP but is not part of the team handling the Garcia case nor is he a signatory to the plea bargain agreement.

In its motion to disqualify or inhibit, the OSG said that because of Rex Sandoval?s position in the OSP, his father should not be ruling on the plunder case. With Leila Salaverria



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