Ping link FG to WB blacklist

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — FIRST Gentleman Mike Arroyo and a former senator allegedly employed “rough approach” in asking bribes from a Japanese contractor, according to the World Bank report blacklisting three contractors for alleged collusion.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson disclosed that a Japanese businessman mentioned in the WB report as Tomato Suzuka, made the claim. He said that at least 10 individuals, including Japanese and Korean contractors, have linked Mr. Arroyo to collusive practices in bidding WB-funded projects.

”Lumayas na ito dahil nadismaya na nga eh. Sinabi niya he met at least once with FG Mike Arroyo and former or late Sen. Robert Barbers. Ang nakakahiya ay ‘yung description na ginawa niya sa World Bank ‘nung kinukuhanan siya ng statement,” he said.

”Ang sinabi niya ‘nung nakipagkita siya sa dalawa, they had “rough approach.” Kapag sinabing rough approach hindi ba garapalan ang ibig sabihin ‘nun? Garapal daw dumiga tungkol sa price, ayun ang sinasabi ng Hapon,” Lacson said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Mar Roxas asked President Macapagal-Arroyo to save the country’s “corrupt” image. “She can begin by ordering an independent investigation into the numerous anomalies involving her husband, First Gentleman Mike Arroyo,” he said.

”It is important to clean our country’s image. We are really in a very embarrassing situation now. The world thinks all Philippine government officials are corrupt. When will GMA act to stop this?” he asked.

Roxas said that Mrs. Arroyo can prove her sincerity in removing corruption by subjecting her husband to an independent investigation amid mounting allegations of huge bribes and multi-million peso fund diversion scams.

Unfair

Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane however said it was unfair to link the First Gentleman to the DPWH road program because he never interfered with the department’s projects.

“Since I assumed office in February 2005, Mr. Arroyo has not approached me even once,” Ebdane told a radio interview.

He said he had put in place anti-graft and corruption measures which convinced the World Bank to approve the second phase of the road program coasting $250 million.

The bidding for the project was held two weeks ago. “I have invited and included representatives of the World Bank, civil society, the business sector and the church and opened it to the public and media,” said Ebdane.

No copy

Malacañang has not been furnished a copy of the World Bank report which blacklisted two Philippine corporations and an individual for allegedly engaging in “collusive practices” in the bidding of WB-funded projects.

“The Palace does not have a copy of the report. I don’t have a copy,” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told reporters.

Sen. Miriam Santiago, whose committee is investigating the issues raised in the WB report, said she will ask the WB to furnish the Senate with its official report, saying her copy does not mention the alleged involvement of the First Gentleman and other political personalities.

Ermita said Mr. Arroyo being a private person should be able to address the issues raised against him in the WB report. He said the Office of the Ombudsman on the other hand can initiate its investigation of government officials who have been implicated in the report.