Mike A’s German bank documents worthless, says Cayetano
- Jess Diaz () - August 28, 2006 - 12:00am
The certification that First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo reportedly possesses and which shows that the First Family does not keep an account in a German bank is "worthless," an opposition leader said yesterday.

"It is worthless, unless they submit it to the House committee on justice in an impeachment hearing and we confront them with our evidence," said Deputy Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano.

For that to happen, Cayetano said President Arroyo and her husband should ask their House allies to reopen the impeachment proceedings by reconsidering their dismissal last Thursday of the complaint filed by Black and White Movement organizers led by former social welfare secretary Dinky Soliman.

He said if more impeachment hearings are conducted, the President "will have a chance to clear her name, plus it will be fair as we in the prosecution can show our evidence while they can show their (bank) certification and their defenses."

Meanwhile, administration lawmakers called on Cayetano to be man enough to admit his mistake in publicly accusing the Arroyos of owning a multimillion-dollar account in a bank in Germany.

In a statement, Representatives Monico Puentevella (Lakas, Bacolod City) and Eduardo Veloso (NPC, Leyte) said the least Cayetano can do is to apologize to the First Family.

"Now that the bank officials have spoken, the least Rep. Cayetano can do is redeem himself. He was emphatic with his accusations, now he should be man enough to admit that he was wrong all along," Puentevella, chairman of the House committee on transportation said.

Last Thursday, the President’s husband, accompanied by two lawyers, flew to Munich, Germany to obtain a certification from HypoVereinsbank that none of the members of the First Family keeps an account there.

Bank vice president Peter Reisner and general secretariat head Evi Vollman in their certification said Mr. Arroyo kept no account in HypoVereinsbank and that the account number mentioned by Cayetano was non-existent.

Mr. Arroyo was angered by Cayetano’s accusation that the First Family has an account in that Munich bank that contains "hundreds of millions of dollars."

He offered a plane ticket to the Taguig-Pateros congressman so he could accompany him, but Cayetano said the two of them should first go to "BPI Perea Street (Legaspi Village, Makati City) branch."

Cayetano claimed that among other banks, it is at BPI Perea branch that the First Family keeps "hundreds of millions of pesos" under the false name Jose Pidal.

The President’s husband has described these allegations as lies and has threatened to file the appropriate charges against the Taguig-Pateros congressman.

Cayetano referred to the alleged deposits on Aug. 16 in the course of an impeachment hearing by disputing claims made by Mrs. Arroyo’s allies that the evidence inside seven large boxes in the possession of the opposition was "recycled trash."

Opposition congressmen tried to submit the seven boxes to the justice committee, but the panel rejected them.

"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?" Cayetano asked.

He indicated that the First Family owns both accounts, though he did not name names.

He said Mrs. Arroyo could 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," he 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.

But Veloso and Puentevella said Cayetano made the bank account exposé to gain "pogi" points, but its exposure as a lie backfired on him and could have serious repercussions on his senatorial ambitions next year.

Puentevella said the impeachment process is over and there is no more need for Cayetano to be peddling lies. "All this gimmickry should now end. The majority of House members who dismissed the impeachment complaint did not believe in his bluff. His credibility has been damaged because of his own doing and this will surely affect his chances in next year’s elections," he said.

Veloso, for his part, said Cayetano should not beat around the bush by reiterating his call for the Arroyos to waive their right to the confidentiality of their bank accounts. "It is an obvious face-saving gesture. That is a tool for a witch-hunting spree and it is not accepted locally," he said.

The Jose Pidal accounts had been attributed in late 2003 to the President’s husband by opposition Sen. Panfilo Lacson in his now famous Jose Pidal-Incredible Hulk exposé.

In his three-part exposé, Lacson accused the First Gentleman of allegedly hiding some P260 million in secret bank deposits using the false name Jose Pidal and Vicky Toh, Mr. Arroyo’s secretary, and her brother Tomas, as dummies. The President’s husband and the Tohs denied the allegation.

Lacson presented bank statements evidencing the deposits in the BPI and Union Bank branches on Perea Street, not far from the LTA building that the Arroyo family owns, but the banks refused to confirm or deny the accounts.

Exactly eight days after the Lacson revelations, the First Gentleman’s brother Jose Ignacio or Iggy came out in the open to own the Jose Pidal accounts. But when the Senate investigated him, Iggy clammed up, invoking his right to privacy more than 20 times. Iggy would later run for and win as congressman in Negros Occidental.

In the course of the Jose Pidal investigation, Sen. Sergio Osmeña III brought up the alleged ownership by the Arroyo couple of the two San Francisco buildings.

He said California real estate registry documents showed that then Sen. Arroyo and her husband bought the properties in 1992 "in trust" for Iggy.

However, he doubted whether Iggy Arroyo could afford the buildings worth millions of dollars since the President’s husband’s brother was just then renting an apartment in Bacolod City.

Osmeña asserted that it was then Sen. Arroyo and husband Jose Miguel Arroyo who were the real owners of the buildings.

To support his colleague’s assertion, Lacson produced photocopies of Iggy Arroyo’s income tax statement filings with the Bureau of Internal Revenue which showed that Iggy paid no more than P14,000 in annual income tax for three years in the mid-1990s.

During Iggy Arroyo’s Senate testimony, Osmeña asked him whether he owned the San Francisco assets, where he got the money to buy them, whether he collected rent, how he was managing them, and related matters.

But Iggy refused to talk beyond invoking his right to privacy. The Senate inquiry into the Jose Pidal accounts is still hanging.

The alleged ownership by the Arroyo couple of the two San Francisco buildings had been the subject of a complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman, but the case was eventually dismissed.

ACCOUNT ARROYO BANK CAYETANO FIRST FIRST FAMILY IGGY JOSE JOSE PIDAL LACSON
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