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Ignacio Arroyo’s daughter to bring her dad home, says former FG

EMPTY-HANDED Alicia “Aleli” Arroyo, estranged wife of Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo, arrives at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on a flight from London without the lawmaker’s body. RODEL ROTONI

The remains of Negros Occidental Representative Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo will be brought home by his eldest child, Bianca, and not by his estranged second wife Alicia “Aleli” Arroyo or his longtime companion Grace Ibuna, the lawmaker’s brother said Sunday.

In a phone interview, Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, husband of former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said Bianca was scheduled to talk with the London coroner on Monday to seek the release of his younger brother’s body which would be flown into the country intact and not cremated.

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Bianca is the only child of Iggy and his first wife, Marilyn Jacinto, sister of entertainer Ramon “RJ” Jacinto.

But lawyer Lorna Kapunan, Aleli’s legal counsel, said Bianca could not take charge of repatriating his father’s body because Ibuna had obtained a court order in the United Kingdom declaring her Iggy’s next of kin and barring Aleli from taking hold of the body.

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Ibuna was at Iggy’s bedside when he was taken off life support on January 26. Iggy had sought treatment for cirrhosis of the liver in London.

“We don’t know if they (Mike and Bianca) know that there is a court order unless they are working together with Ibuna. They should just say it straight out. I don’t think Grace Ibuna is intelligent enough to make these maneuvers,” Kapunan told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Kapunan accompanied Aleli to London last week with the goal of bringing home Iggy’s body to the Philippines on Saturday.

The two came home empty-handed after solicitors of Ibuna served them papers preventing them from removing the body, which was frozen in a box at a London funeral parlor.

Kapunan said Aleli had not been able to see Iggy’s remains.

The lawyer claimed that Aleli and Bianca had a meeting in front of  Philippine consular officials the night before they went to the funeral parlor.

Among the things they ironed out was that a funeral parlor in the country would receive Iggy’s body from the United Kingdom. “We have to name a Philippine consignee which the London funeral parlor can coordinate with. Aleli wanted Loyola in Marikina City, but Bianca wanted Arlington, so we agreed with her (Bianca),” Kapunan said.

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Wake in La Vista

The lawyer said Bianca was insistent that Iggy’s wake be held at his family’s house in La Vista subdivision in Quezon City where he and his siblings Mike and Marilou (who was married to Ramon Jacinto) grew up.

Kapunan said Aleli, who wanted the wake held at their home in the same compound, had given way to Bianca.

“We don’t know if Bianca was speaking for the Arroyo family. But when they met, Bianca said that since Aleli was here, she should take charge of the funeral arrangements. That’s why we were surprised that Grace had obtained papers insisting she was Iggy’s next of kin and that we were told she wanted Iggy cremated,” Kapunan said.

Under Philippine laws, the legal wife was No. 1 in line among the deceased’s next of kin, with the children coming in second, the parents third, and the siblings last, Kapunan said.

Kapunan said she found it absurd that Ibuna would seek cover from a British court when all the principals involved were Filipino citizens.

“She not only wanted the body cremated, she also sued the Philippine embassy,” said Kapunan who suggested that Ibuna’s passport be canceled if she did not release Iggy’s body.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the family of Iggy had asked the government not to make public “details about the repatriation” of the remains of the late congressman.

Citing a report of the Philippine Embassy in London, DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez yesterday told the Inquirer that “in keeping with the request of (Arroyo’s) family, it is not in a position to disclose to the public details about the repatriation of his remains.”

On Friday, Hernandez said there was “no advisory yet from the embassy (regarding the repatriation of Arroyo’s body).”

He expressed hope that “it will be soon” as he assured the public that the DFA was in touch with Arroyo’s family and was helping facilitate the return of the late congressman’s remains.

Arroyo request

Following Iggy’s death, lawyers of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is under hospital arrest on a charge of electoral sabotage, have asked a Pasay City regional trial court for her provisional freedom so she can pay her last respects to her brother-in-law.

The Comelec, over the weekend, said the former President must clarify her request, particularly the place of the wake, so that the government could prepare the logistical and security requirements needed should she be allowed to go out of the hospital.

Some Catholic bishops supported her request for “humanitarian reasons.”

Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said Gloria Arroyo must be given a temporary pass to attend the wake of Iggy, a privilege given even to inmates.

“If your brother-in-law dies, will you not visit him?” Arguelles asked.

“I know that many sentenced inmates are allowed to visit deceased close relatives … of course, they are not high-profile prisoners. Is [Arroyo] already a sentenced prisoner?” the prelate said.

Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros did not see anything wrong with allowing the former President to attend the wake of his brother-in-law.

Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos said Gloria Arroyo must be allowed to attend “out of charity or compassion.”

The former President is detained at Veterans Memorial Medical Center.

As to the apparent tug-of-war between Aleli and Ibuna, Archbishop Emeritus Cruz suggested that Iggy’s estranged wife and companion talk things over to resolve the issue. With a report from Jerry E. Esplanada

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TAGS: Bianca Arroyo, Family, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Ignacio Arroyo, Mike Arroyo, Politics
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