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Try ‘other sources’ aside from Mr Arroyo

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 17:24:00 02/09/2009

Filed Under: World bank road mess, Graft & Corruption

MANILA, Philippines—If Senators “really want to know the truth” on alleged corruption in World Bank-funded infrastructure projects, they should try “other sources” aside from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s husband, Malacañang said.

At the same time, deputy presidential spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo lamented how the allegations linking First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo to alleged rigged bids were “unfairly hurting” the President.

“I think we have to go back to the objective of the Senate… If they really want to know the truth and if they really want to find out what happened in the World Bank issue, then probably they could get the other sources, from other people, not just the First Gentleman,” Fajardo told a news conference at the Palace.

“I think masyado lang nating napapalaki pag ang pinaguusapan na involvement na ‘yan ng First Gentleman [it’s blown out of proportion when we talk of the involvement of the First Gentleman],” she said.

Despite being “hurt” by the allegations, Fajardo said President Arroyo remained focused on her job.

Quoting the First Gentleman’s lawyers, Fajardo said Mr. Arroyo was willing to submit his deposition to a Senate body looking into the alleged rigged biddings for World Bank funded projects.

Mr. Arroyo’s lawyers, however, did not return calls seeking comment.

In a phone interview last Friday, the First Gentleman’s lawyer, Ruy Rondain, said his client wanted to answer the allegations against him, but it was up to his doctors to decide if he could testify at the Senate.

Mr. Arroyo has a heart ailment and has gone under the knife several times in recent years.

A World Bank inquiry showed evidence of a major cartel involving local and international firms bidding on contracts under phase one of the Philippines National Roads Improvement and Management Program.

This prompted the bank to bar E.C. de Luna Construction Corp., Philip-Cavite Ideal International Construction and Development Corp., and CM Pancho Construction Inc. from bidding on its projects in the Philippines.

In 2002, Mr. Arroyo purportedly met at least 20 times with Eduardo de Luna, president of E.C. de Luna Construction Corp.

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Written by joelguinto

MonUTC2009-02-09T12:33:31+00:00UTC02bUTCMon, 09 Feb 2009 12:33:31 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm02

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