Graft raps filed vs solon over undeclared wealth

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage) yesterday filed criminal complaints against Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo for his growing questionable wealth, some of which were not declared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth.

In a seven-page affidavit-complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman, Courage officials charged Arroyo with graft and perjury for his questionable wealth that reportedly ballooned when he became the representative of Pampanga’s second district.

Courage president Ferdinand Gaite and other officials asked the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate Arroyo’s ill-gotten wealth.

The complaint stemmed from an investigative report of VERA Files published on August 31 which claimed that Arroyo did not include in his 2007 and 2008 SALN an expensive beachfront house in San Francisco.

The complainants said Arroyo committed perjury when he did not declare the P63.7 million-property located in San Francisco Bay, California.

Arroyo said he bought the property in 2006 and transferred ownership to his wife Ma. Angela Arroyo Montenegro.

Courage said Arroyo may have violated the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act when his assets ballooned to P61.8 million in 2005 or shortly after he was elected.

“Arroyo could be held liable for graft simply based on his admission that he accepted millions in wedding gifts and campaign contributions which helped pad his assets from only P76.9 million in 2005 to P99.2 million in 2008,” the complaint said.

Arroyo admitted in a television interview that some of his wealth came from wedding gifts and campaign contributions.

Courage said Arroyo should have declared the campaign funds with the Commission on Elections.

The complainants said the lawmaker’s voluntary admission needs no further evidence to prove that he violated the Omnibus Election Code, particularly Article XI Section 95, which prohibits acceptance of electoral contributions from financial institutions, employees of the Civil Service and the Armed Forces, and foreigners, among others.

“While government employees religiously filed in their SALN the last centavo of their properties, a simple discrepancy or even oversight could lead to an immediate investigation or in some cases the conduct of a lifestyle check. A case of perjury or even graft because of unexplained wealth could be an instant remedy,” the complaint added.

Arroyo was unfazed by the charges, saying he is ready to face the complaint.

“I welcome all charges that will be filed against me regarding my SALN. I am confident I would come out of that case with my name clean,” he said.

The solon maintained that he did nothing irregular or illegal in filing his SALN.

“I stand by the numbers in my SALN. It’s rather unfortunate my family’s critics have refused to believe in my explanation and I’m sure no amount of explanation will suffice,” Arroyo said.