Mike Arroyo not attending Senate inquiry
First Gentleman to submit ‘statement’–lawyer
MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) First Gentleman Jose Miguel will not attend a Senate hearing on Thursday into the alleged rigging of bids for World Bank-funded projects, upon the advise of his doctors, his lawyer said.
Instead, Mr. Arroyo will submit a “statement” to the Senate replying to allegations he allegedly received kickbacks from the rigged biddings, lawyer Ruy Rondain said.
“Doctors called him [Mr. Arroyo] to say that he cannot attend,” Rondain said in a statement, adding that the First Gentleman’s lawyers will explain his absence to senators during the hearing.
Mr. Arroyo has a heart ailment and underwent open heart surgery in 2007.
Three Cabinet officials, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., and Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya, will attend the hearing, after seeking permission from the Palace, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.
“We will not prevent them from appearing. They are confident they can handle themselves and handle the questions,” Ermita said.
Earlier in the day, Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile on Wednesday appealed for “due respect” to Mr. Arroyo.
“As far as the appearance of the gentleman — I’m not saying this simply because he is Mr. Mike Arroyo — we have to at least give due respect to the fact that the gentleman is the First Gentleman of the country,” Enrile told reporters on Wednesday
“We could invite him and, if he’s…able enough physically to come, then it would be better if he would come. I would assume that he will be given every courtesy in the Senate if he appears,” Enrile said.
“On the other hand, given the fact that he [Mr. Arroyo] had undergone a major operation, I will have to defer to the opinion of his doctors. I’m not a doctor [and am not qualified] to evaluate his physical condition, whether he could [handle] …the emotional stresses of appearing in the congressional hearings,” he said.
While saying it would be “very dangerous” to put Mr. Arroyo under “heavy stress” given his condition, Enrile agreed that playing golf might relieve the First Gentleman’s stress.
“Alam mo pag naglaro ka ng golf, wala kang iniissip kundi ‘yung bola. Kung minsan, hindi mo pinapalo yung bola, basta lakad ka lang ng lakad. Wala kang inissip [You know, when you play golf, you think of nothing but the ball. Sometimes, you don’t hit the ball, you just walk and walk. You think of nothing] because if you are thinking of something else when you are playing golf, you can never hit that ball,” he said.
“I’m telling you, I’m a golfer. You’ll lose consciousness about the world, if you are a real golfer, when you play golf. So in effect, it’s a therapy for stress,” he explained.
On the World Bank’s participation in the Senate inquiry, Enrile said he would leave it up to the committees to decide whether or not to summon the financial institution’s country director, Bert Hofman.
“If they [committees] want, they can subpoena the country director of the World Bank here and it’s up to them to appear because we can’t compel them to appear, because I don’t know the charter of the World Bank,” he said.
“I don’t know their [diplomatic] immunities under that [World Bank] charter, but there’s no harm in trying to invite them or to send them a summons within the jurisdiction of the Republic of the Philippines. It’s up to them to raise their immunity if they want to raise their immunity,” Enrile said.
View article as posted on INQUIRER.net