Senate ‘forum shopping’ on WB mess
By Joel Guinto
First Posted 16:36:00 02/25/200
MANILA, Philippines — First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo said a plan of the Senate blue ribbon committee to conduct a separate inquiry into the alleged corruption surrounding World Bank-funded projects was “shocking” and tantamount to “forum shopping.”
“This is shocking to me as a lawyer because it smells too much of forum-shopping,” said Arroyo, who has been accused of benefiting from the alleged collusion between contractors and government officials to rig the bidding of the projects.
The World Bank has barred a number of Filipino and Chinese construction firms from bidding for projects because of alleged corruption.
Arroyo said that, while he would “respect” the decision of the blue ribbon committees, he hoped that his constitutional rights would be respected as well. He also noted that, if he engaged in forum-shopping, he would be sanctioned by the Supreme Court.
The blue ribbon committee chaired by Senator Richard Gordon plans to take off from the inquiry into the World Bank mess conducted by the economic affairs committee of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chairperson of the economic affairs committee, together with the committees on public workers, chaired by Senator Ramon Revilla Jr., and finance, chaired by Senator Manuel Roxas II.
Arroyo also rejected a newspaper report, based on a World Bank briefing to senators, that he was part of the alleged “cartel” that colluded in rigging the bids for infrastructure projects.
“This is garbage. I have never been part of any cartel,” he said.
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