Rep. Ignacio Arroyo forged ‘Jose Pidal’ signature, Senate told | Inquirer News

Rep. Ignacio Arroyo forged ‘Jose Pidal’ signature, Senate told

By: - Deputy Day Desk Chief / @TJBurgonioINQ
/ 01:46 AM August 23, 2011

Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo copied the signature of “Jose Pidal” right inside the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory and later submitted his signature specimen in 2003 to the Senate blue ribbon committee to save his elder brother, Mike Arroyo.

Retired Chief Supt. Restituto Mosqueda on Monday made this testimony at a Senate inquiry into the sale of used helicopters passed off as brand-new to the PNP. Mike allegedly owned the choppers.

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Mosqueda, who for years denied claims he conspired with Ignacio and Mike to forge the latter’s specimen signature at the height of the 2003 Senate inquiry into the Pidal accounts, turned up as Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s surprise resource person.

“Let us not deprive the public of the right to know the truth behind the transactions,” Mosqueda told the blue ribbon committee, reading from his opening statement.

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Lacson, who exposed the Jose Pidal accounts, said in a privilege speech eight years ago that Mike, husband of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, used the secret accounts for money laundering.

The senator accused Mike of amassing more than P200 million from campaign contributions for his wife and putting the money in the accounts.

Pattern

Lacson said he presented Mosqueda as a resource person to show the pattern that Ignacio had been assuming the liabilities of his brother, like the sale of secondhand helicopters passed off as brand-new to the PNP.

The blue ribbon committee opened the inquiry after Lacson claimed that Mike sold two used helicopters to the PNP in 2009. Ignacio, however, recently claimed that it was he who signed a lease contract that allowed the family company LTA Inc. to use the helicopters for two months in 2004.

It wasn’t the second time that Ignacio took the rap for his older brother. A few months before the 1998 elections, the Inquirer ran a banner story and photos of commercial buildings in San Francisco that then Sen. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband had failed to mention in their statement of assets and liabilities.

Gloria Arroyo was then considered a top contender for the presidency. To defuse the charges, Mike presented Ignacio, who said he owned the controversial buildings.

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Mosqueda said the forging of the Jose Pidal signature had the blessings of the Arroyo brothers, and was arranged by Mike’s lawyer Antonio Zulueta, Francisco Cancio and Ronaldo Puno.

Puno vehemently denied Mosqueda’s claims and called him a “liar.”

Call from Mike’s lawyer

Mosqueda recalled that after Lacson delivered a privilege speech on the Pidal account on Aug. 18, 2003, he got a call from Zulueta who told him to “make it appear” that the Pidal account was not Mike’s.

The following day, he said “Secretary Puno of DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government)” instructed him to proceed to the Zulueta law office at the Vernida Condominium in Makati City for a meeting.

“It was there when Puno gave instructions to me to make it appear that Iggy Arroyo owned the Jose Pidal account, not the First Gentleman Mike Arroyo. I told the secretary that there was not much that I could do personally but would refer and instruct the chief of the Questioned Documents Division, Dr. Mely Sorra, to take care of everything,” he said.

Signing practice

Shortly after, Mosqueda said Ignacio and Cancio proceeded to the PNP Crime Laboratory in Camp Crame where Ignacio practiced signing as Jose Pidal under the supervision of Mosqueda, then director of the PNP Crime Laboratory.

“For this purpose, he was made to sign as such by copying the original signature of Jose Pidal as appearing in the check presented by Senator Lacson in his privilege speech,” Mosqueda said.

Crime lab report

Ignacio later came out in public to claim that he was Jose Pidal and reiterated this claim before the Senate blue ribbon committee that inquired into the account, Mosqueda recounted.

“He presented a crime lab report stating that there was a strong indication that the questioned Jose Pidal signature and the standard handwriting-specimen signature Jose Pidal were written by one and the same person,” he said.

Mosqueda said Puno later “commended” him for his “good performance” at a meeting on the ninth floor of the National Life Building in Makati City.

US trip, promotion

Mosqueda said he later met with Puno and Ignacio at the Byron Hotel in Mandaluyong City where he was told to read a press release on the Pidal account.

He also later got a call from Ignacio offering a free trip to the United States or Hong Kong, and a new car of his choice as a sign of the latter’s gratitude, but the police official declined.

Mosqueda said that during a dinner with Mike, Ignacio, Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo and Puno at a posh restaurant in Makati, he was told by Mike: “General, you’re now appointed regional director of Region V…”

Mosqueda said Mike reiterated his gratitude to him during a Christmas party at the Arroyo-owned LTA Inc. building in Makati in December 2004.

“He told me, ‘Thank you general for everything,’” he said.

Same signature

Mosqueda admitted that before he appeared before the Senate inquiry into the Pidal account, the crime lab had only examined the “specimen signature” of Ignacio, not Mike’s.

“The questioned signature was not included in the examination. What was included was the specimen signature only of Ignacio Arroyo. So the specimen signatures were the same that were examined. Naturally, there will be indications of the same because the questioned document signature in the check was not examined,” he said.

To further validate his statement, he suggested that the committee invite Dr. Mely Sorra, then chief of the Questioned Documents Division.

Puno denial

Puno scoffed at Mosqueda’s claims and pointed out that he was neither the local government secretary nor a congressman in 2003.

“For the record that is a total lie. I was not even a secretary in 2003. I became a secretary in 2006,” he said.

But he admitted that he became close to Mosqueda, then the Estancia town mayor, when he made visits to Iloilo province as local government secretary. “I did not know Mr. Mosqueda in 2003. I was not close to the First Family. I ran under a different party in 2004.”

Mosqueda said he referred to Puno as “secretary” out of respect, and while he was not secretary at the time, he was very close to the Arroyos. He said Puno was the “middle man” between himself and the Arroyos.

Freedom

Why did he come out only now?

“It’s only now that there’s liberty and freedom to tell. We were all under pressure at that time. The good senator was a recipient of a gag order that’s why we couldn’t testify,” Mosqueda said in reply to a question from Sen. Jinggoy Estrada.

Estrada reminded Mosqueda that in the 2005 Senate inquiry into the “jueteng” scandal he claimed that Ignacio’s signature was authentic.

“I could not recall it,” Mosqueda replied. “It was Mely Sorra who discussed the issue.”

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TAGS: “Jose Pidal”, forging signature, Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, Negros Occidental Rep Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo, Retired Chief Supt. Restituto Mosqueda, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Senate blue ribbon committee, signature specimen, Used helicopters
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