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Mikey may face criminal charges for alleged ill-gotten wealth - lawyer

MANILA, Philippines - Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo could face criminal charges in the US and the Philippines for alleged ill-gotten wealth when he admitted that he received gifts and owned property in the US during a television interview, a lawyer said yesterday.

Speaking at the Daungan ng Balita at the Danarra Hotel in Quezon City, Harry Roque said Arroyo has practically plunged himself into legal quicksand when he admitted assets and liabilities amounting to more than P100 million when he is earning P2.5 million as a lawmaker.

“For accepting expensive gifts Representative Arroyo has violated anti-graft and internal revenue code laws which carry stiff prison terms,” he said.

Roque said public officials accepting gifts in cash or in kind violates the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

On the other hand, under the law, expensive gifts must be reported to the Bureau of Internal Revenue where the donor and donee will have to pay a 30-percent tax, he added.

Roque said Arroyo could also be held liable for violating laws on unexplained wealth because more than P100 million in assets is a far cry from an annual salary of P400,000.

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“Any asset that cannot be explained is ill- gotten and must be seized in favor of the government,” he said.

Roque said he is now coordinating with American lawyers to build up cases against Arroyo for possible violation of money laundering and racketeering laws when he bought property in US.

He will confer next week with Filipino-American lawyers who helped build up the case that led to the imprisonment and eventual extradition to the Philippines of former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante, he added.

Roque said Arroyo may face plunder charges in the Philippines because the series of alleged offenses involves more than P50 million.

“This is only the tip of the iceberg, as a preview, we are in the process of consolidating our case,” he said.– Perseus Echeminada

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