Cayetano: I won’t apologize to anyone

- Jess Diaz -
House Deputy Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano is not about to apologize to President Arroyo and her family for his statement that some family members allegedly have "hundreds of millions of dollars" in a bank in Germany.

Cayetano told The STAR yesterday that he is standing pat on what he revealed last Wednesday during the House justice committee proceedings on the impeachment complaint against the President.

Malacañang, meanwhile, warned Cayetano that he is turning out to be "the biggest grandstander of Philippine politics" for failing to prove his allegations of the First family’s multimillion-dollar accounts in Germany.

Presidential adviser for political affairs Gabriel Claudio said Cayetano was "throwing the vilest propaganda" against the President and the First Family "just to bait his colleagues in Congress to open their so-called boxes of evidence" that were left unopened after the House justice committee junked the opposition’s latest impeachment complaint.

"As First Gentleman (Jose Miguel) Mike Arroyo has challenged him, he must now prove his allegations or else raise and donate the amount he claims to be illegally possessed by the First Family to the Filipino people and be proven the biggest grandstander of Philippine politics," Claudio said.

Cayetano’s revelation also elicited criticism from Mrs. Arroyo’s House allies led by Rep. Rodolfo Albano III of Isabela, who said the opposition was just engaging in "witch-hunting and a fishing expedition with the wild accusation that the First Family is hiding hundreds of millions in a German bank."

"After last year’s and this year’s failed impeachment, the opposition has grown so desperate that it is trying the President by publicity," Albano and three colleagues said in a joint statement.

Cayetano recalled how he referred to the German bank account.

"I informed the justice committee and House members last Wednesday that there is evidence inside one of the seven boxes containing voluminous documents, tapes, photographs, and other materials pointing to a bank account in Germany that contains hundreds of millions of dollars," he said.

"Subsequently, some reporters asked me who the account holder could possibly be, and I answered that the respondent in the impeachment complaint is President Arroyo. That was all I told them," he said.

He said if Mrs. Arroyo, her husband and other members of her family want to find out the truth about the alleged German bank account, all the President have to do is to tell her House allies to open the seven large boxes containing evidence against her.

The First Gentleman has denied that he has hundreds of millions of dollars in Germany.

He said if Cayetano can prove that there in such a German bank account in his (Arroyo’s) name, the lawmaker can have the money.

But if the accusation turns out to be untrue, Cayetano should pay the President’s husband the huge sum that he claims the First Family owns and the latter would donate the money to the Filipino people.

Last Wednesday, before the justice committee declared the impeachment complaint insufficient in substance, opposition congressmen led by Minority Leader Francis Escudero and Cayetano tried to submit the seven boxes of evidence they claimed they have against Mrs. Arroyo, but the panel did not accept them.

Committee members said under the House impeachment rules, presentation of evidence is allowed only if the committee finds a complaint sufficient in substance.

Cayetano disputed claims by the President’s allies that the evidence inside the boxes was "recycled trash."

"Is a local bank account with hundreds of millions of pesos trash? What about a German bank account with hundreds of millions of dollars - not pesos - and with the account number 87-570-23030-32100-62771571?" he asked.

He said Mrs. Arroyo can resolve the lingering political crisis and bring peace to the nation by telling her House allies to allow the opening of the seven boxes of evidence.

"Let us open those boxes and see if there is evidence or not. If there is none, you can do whatever you want with us. You can have us resign and work for free for the President. I’ll even volunteer to be her bodyguard," Cayetano said.

He said the evidence also includes "footage not only of eyewitnesses but people who actually participated and are willing to testify in the switching of election returns."

"Once the boxes are opened, all these will be revealed," he added. Cayetano said Mrs. Arroyo should follow the example of deposed President Joseph Estrada who answered the impeachment charges against him in his aborted Senate impeachment trial.

Besides allegedly keeping secret bank accounts, one of the impeachment charges against Mrs. Arroyo is that she and her family have undeclared assets, including a six-hectare lot in Caloocan City and at least two residential and commercial buildings in downtown San Francisco, California.

Claudio said that Cayetano "has to get hold of his senses. His hatred and ambition are clouding his judgment, making him reach the heights of recklessness, irresponsibility and deception rare even in the rambunctious would of Philippine politics."

In their joint statement, Albano and colleagues Eduardo Veloso of Leyte, Douglas Cagas of Davao del Sur and Monico Puentevella of Bacolod City urged the opposition to stop peddling the German bank account tale.

"The opposition is just doing a Pandora’s box thing. First, they claim that they have evidence in the seven boxes, and now they alleged that the Arroyos own bank accounts in Germany. They are just inciting public curiosity to mislead the people that the Arroyos have committed wrongdoing. That is unfair," they said.

"Remember the adage curiosity killed the cat? This is like the second envelope where there was a clamor to open it but it turned out later that there was nothing in it," they said. — With Paolo Romero











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