Deposition for FG

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE Senate is poised to subject First Gentleman Juan Miguel “Mike” Arroyo to a deposition process to answer allegations that he demanded commissions from contractors of World Bank-funded projects.

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said a deposition is called for since Mr. Arroyo was a no show yesterday at the Senate hearing.

Santiago said it is not enough for Mr. Arroyo to submit a written “comprehensive” denial about his alleged participation in the collusion among blacklisted Filipino contractors.

”We shall depose, meaning we shall send written questions to the FG, immediately after the senators are given a chance to read the so-called NRIMP-1-Evidence File to be submitted by the Ombudsman,” she said.

Dr. Antonio Sibulo, Jr., director of the St. Luke’s Hospital Heart Institute, yesterday told the Committee on Economic Affairs that Arroyo’s personal appearance at the Senate hearing is life-threatening.

In his prepared statement, Mr.Arroyo denied the charges, saying he is not close to Eduardo de Luna, one of the contractors blacklisted by the World Bank. He described as “outrageous” the insinuation made by Sen. Panfilo Lacson that P70 million in cash was delivered to him at his LTA building in Makati City.

Interviewed by reporters at the hospital, Arroyo said there is no evidence against him. “They want to kill me. I don’t want to die yet,” he added.

Lacson however maintained that Mr. Arroyo should clear his name. “He’s never off the hook. Someday, somehow he will have to confront these issues. It’s always a general denial na walang detalye,” he said.

Santiago noted the recently discovered evidence consisting of a WB document which Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez claimed she had received only two days ago.

”After the senators read this latest file, then we shall hold an executive session to determine whether there is legal ground to further examine the FG and other implicated persons,” the senator said.

Santiago said FG and other public figures were implicated in a WB document called Notice of Judicial Sanctions Proceedings Part 2 given to her by Lacson.

Meanwhile, a federation of non-government organizations said Lacson should have gathered evidence first before making the allegations against Arroyo.

The Balikatan People’s Alliance said Lacson’s move to skip the Senate hearing on the alleged fraud strengthened impressions that his accusations against Arroyo and several other people were only for media mileage.

“Especially now that the representative of the Japanese contractor whom Sen. Lacson claimed were roughly and directly solicited for bribes allegedly by the First Gentleman and former Sen. Robert Barbers categorically denied the incident yesterday in the Senate,” Balikatan Chair Louie Balbago said.

Balbago pointed out that the hearing was the best chance for those accused to confront the senator.