Witch-hunt, says Mike Arroyo | Inquirer News

Witch-hunt, says Mike Arroyo

/ 05:03 AM October 05, 2013

The usual suspects, the stock denials.

Protesting against the latest financial skulduggery to be laid at the door of the previous Arroyo administration, former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita on Friday described his role in the alleged P900-million Malampaya Fund misuse as nothing more than ministerial.

Ermita said he merely relayed the order issued by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the use of Malampaya Fund for the victims of Tropical Storms “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” in 2009.


“I’m no different than a notary public, I just attested to the President’s order which I believe was based on solid ground—Presidential Decree 910,” Ermita said in a phone interview.


“Relaying presidential decisions to the appropriate Cabinet secretary by memo” was just part of his functions as executive secretary, he said.

Aquino witch-hunt

Mike Arroyo, the husband of the former President, accused the Aquino administration of a witch-hunt, as he had done in the past when corruption cases were filed against him and his wife or when financial impropriety was alleged against him.

“Once again, the Aquino administration is on a witch-hunt, led by its chief inquisitor, the secretary of justice. And once more, it is once again making use of discredited methods of persecution such as innuendo, half-truths, convoluted logic and guilt by association, to pursue this nefarious end,” Arroyo’s lawyer and spokesperson Ferdinand Topacio said in a statement.

Before “shooting its mouth off,” the Department of Justice should build its cases first, and his legal team would be ready to answer the charges in court, Arroyo said through his lawyer.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Thursday filed a plunder complaint in the Ombudsman against former President Arroyo, Ermita, former Budget Secretary (now Camarines Sur Rep.) Rolando Andaya, former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman and 20 others over the alleged misuse of P900 million from the Malampaya Fund, a special fund containing the proceeds from a natural gas operation off the coast of Palawan province.


Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, whose department has supervision over the NBI, made a televised announcement of the filing of the complaint on Thursday.

Ruby Tuason allegedly received P242 million in kickbacks for a still “unidentified principal,” De Lima said. An unnamed Inquirer source said the money was for Mike Arroyo as payment for expenses in the 2007 midterm elections.

Topacio explained that Tuason is the estranged wife of Mike Arroyo’s late first cousin, Carlos “Butch” Tuason, and therefore their relationship was “one merely of affinity” or law, and not of blood.

“At this point, whatever connections attorney Arroyo may have had with Ms Tuason may be deemed to have been severed,” Topacio said.

‘Fantastical charges’

Topacio said none of the whistle-blowers pointed to Mike Arroyo’s involvement in the scam, “thus demonstrating the thinness of the government’s accusation against him.”

“Thus, any insinuation that attorney Arroyo may have been the recipient of any funds received by Ms Tuason from Malampaya, or any other source for that matter, is not only malicious and libelous, but fantastical and belongs in the realm of fiction,” he said.

As head of the DOJ, De Lima should exercise “greater circumspection” in making public statements without any proof, lest she risked becoming like the proverbial “boy who cried wolf,” Topacio said.

“Her latest attempt to link the former first gentleman to another so-called  ‘scam’ before any proof has even been produced is merely, to quote Shakespeare, ‘a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,’” he said.


At the time of the alleged transactions involving the Malampaya Fund, Tuason had been separated from Arroyo’s cousin.

“Mr. Arroyo has had no dealings with Tuason. He last saw her at his cousin’s wake in June 2008, Topacio said.

Topacio challenged the government to build its cases first before “shooting its mouth off” to avoid being rebuffed by the courts.

“The legal team of attorney Arroyo is always ready to disprove the malicious allegations against our client in court, where the battle properly belongs, and not to the hooting throng being whipped up into a lynching frenzy by an administration to cover up its lack of solid achievements and divert public attention away from its own scandals and anomalies,” he said.


Justification for funds’ use

Ermita said the decision to use money from the Malampaya Fund for the typhoon victims was reached in a series of Cabinet meetings in 2009.

“After the President approved it, the secretaries sent their wish list of projects for funding to the Department of Budget and Management,” he said.

He said this was his only role in the disbursement of the Malampaya Fund which was why he was stumped as to why the DOJ should have included him in the plunder charges.

Ermita said he believed Arroyo’s decision to use money from the Malampaya Fund to help agrarian reform communities recover from losses suffered from Ondoy and Pepeng had a sound basis in PD 910, a decree issued by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1976.

The operative section of the decree states that government’s share from the exploitation of energy resources should form part of a special fund to be used to finance energy resource development and exploitation programs and projects “and such other purposes as may be herafter directed by the President.”

Pending a Supreme Court decision on how the proceeds from the Malampaya project are to be shared between the national government and host local government, the President has full control over how the Malampaya Fund is spent.

Ermita stressed that it was only in October 2009 when the Arroyo administration decided to use the Malampaya Fund for the typhoon victims contrary to the claim made by the whistle-blowers that detained alleged pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim-Napoles had been tipped off about the Arroyo Cabinet plans to use the funds three months earlier.

“They are just making up these stories, that this was premeditated. I do not know any of them, including Napoles,” he said.


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Arroyo, 3 Cabinet men charged with plunder

TAGS: Mike Arroyo, Plunder

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