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Helicopters did not belong to Mike, says Iggy

- Mike Frialde () - August 16, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio Arroyo yesterday defended his brother, former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, who has been implicated in the controversial helicopter deal.

In a statement sent from London and read by his lawyer Andresito Fornier, Arroyo said that the helicopters sold to the Philippine National Police (PNP) did not belong to his brother.

“Lourdes T. De Arroyo, Inc. (LTA, Inc.) was the lessee of the five Robinson helicopters from LionAir, Inc., a company owned and controlled by Mr. Archibald Po,” the statement read.

Fornier showed to reporters a photocopy of the lease agreement for the five helicopters.

“Our company needed to lease helicopters then. We certainly did not need to own five helicopters. If we had wanted to go into the helicopter charter business, we would have purchased the equipment directly and openly instead of entering into a convoluted transaction with Mr. Archibald Po who was not really known well by our company,” said the Visayan lawmaker in his statement.

Arroyo said that the lease for the helicopters happened when he was president of LTA. He also said that his brother was not part of LTA during the dates indicated by Po in his affidavit.

“I was president of LTA, Inc. when the company leased the helicopters. My brother was not part of our company during the material dates stated in Mr. Po’s affidavit as he had divested and sold his controlling shares as far back as March 15, 2001. He had since reacquired shares in LTA, Inc., only towards the end of 2010,” he said. 

Arroyo said he was surprised why Po did not disclose that it was his company LionAir that owned the helicopters which were leased to LTA.

“I am surprised that Mr. Po has chosen to conceal the fact that his company, LionAir, executed a contract of lease with our company for the five helicopters in March 16, 2004. This contract was prepared by LionAir and is a standard agreement drafted by its lawyers and notarized by them,” he said.

“Since LionAir is the lessor in a lease agreement with LTA, Inc., then obviously LionAir is the owner of the helicopters in question. It is of no moment that Asian Spirit sold the same helicopters to LionAir, as claimed by Mr. Po, as they are affiliated companies and the alter egos of Mr. Po. Given these circumstances, Mr. Po’s testimony before the Senate should be disregarded and thrown out as a pack of lies,” he added.

Arroyo in his statement also lashed out at Po for “dragging my brother” into the controversy and for allegedly trying to use the issue to avoid paying taxes.

“It would seem that Mr. Po has been giving the government the runaround by using different companies owned and controlled by him to avoid taxes and duties, and by dragging my brother, Attorney Mike Arroyo, into a scam that LionAir, Asian Spirit, its employees and accomplices may have perpetrated to the damage and prejudice of the government, in a clear effort to provide a cover and distraction for Mr. Po’s own fraudulent acts,” he said.

“In so doing, he has caused our company, our family, and my brother much irreparable harm and damage. The irony of it all is that having stomped and flogged my brother in public to the point of seeming helplessness, which has aggravated his medical condition, Mr. Po has asked for and has been given the benefits of ‘witness protection.’ It is my brother, our family, and the Filipino people that need to be protected from Mr. Po,” he said.

Arroyo added that Po and his supposed handlers are staging a “demolition job” against his brother.

“It is my hope that Mr. Po and his handlers who are behind the demolition job against my brother desist from spreading more lies against him. Mr. Po has defrauded the government to further his own business and personal interests and now seeks refuge behind persons who are waging a campaign of retribution against my brother and his family,” he said.

Fornier, meanwhile, questioned Po’s motives for asking to be placed in the government’s witness protection program.

“Why ask to be placed in the witness protection program when you are not guilty?” Fornier said.

ARROYO ASIAN SPIRIT BROTHER COMPANY FORNIER HELICOPTERS LIONAIR MR. ARCHIBALD PO MR. PO
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