Mike A files 30-page answer to PNP helicopter case

- Michael Punongbayan -

MANILA, Philippines - Former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo filed yesterday a counter-affidavit before the Office of the Ombudsman to deny ownership of the alleged overpriced, second-hand light operational helicopters, which were passed off as brand new and sold to the Philippine National Police (PNP).

In a 30-page counter-affidavit, Arroyo claimed he was “maliciously implicated” in the alleged P62.6-million anomaly “on the basis solely of speculative conclusions derived from the very incredible and inadmissible self-serving testimony of (LionAir Inc. owner) Archibald Po.”

The former first gentleman stressed he did not violate Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt practices Act.

“My inclusion in this case is part of a politically motivated witch-hunt against me and my family.”

Arroyo is being probed for allegedly being the real owner of two light operational helicopters bought by the PNP more than two years ago from the Manila Aerospace Products Trading Corp. (MAPTRA) owned by one Larry de Vera, which the latter acquired from LionAir Inc.

Arroyo cited Po’s testimony during the Senate’s investigation that it was LTA Inc. who made an initial deposit of $500,000 to buy the aircraft from Robinson Helicopter Co. (RHC) through foreign telegraphic transfer on Dec. 11, 2003.

According to Arroyo, LionAir Inc. general manager Renato Sia and Po’s collecting officer Edith Solano-Jaguan corroborated the statement that they were transacting with LTA Inc.

Arroyo insinuated the Office of the Ombudsman investigating panel “whimsically modified the testimonies by changing LTA with FG in a blatant attempt to pin me down no matter what.”

He added, “The truth is that I never paid any money to Mr. Po or LionAir and I had no part in his acquisition of the five helicopters from Robinson Helicopter Corp.”

Arroyo said he disassociated himself from LTA Inc. as early as March 2001 “long before the purchase of the helicopters by LionAir from RHC” as evidenced by the deeds of assignment of shares of stocks that he executed.

“It is thus evident that at the time material to this case, I was not a director, nor an officer, nor a stockholder of LTA,” he said, adding that it was his brother Ignacio Arroyo who was transacting with LionAir as president of LTA Inc.

The former first gentlemen also accused the fact-finding committee of ignoring the “patent lies and inconsistencies in (Po’s) statements.”

“Any person with a little common sense would not allow his helicopters worth millions to be held in trust by a stranger without any written proof of the trust arrangement,” he said.

Arroyo also argued that he cannot be charged for violating Section 3(g) of RA 3019 because he is not a public officer who entered into a contract that is grossly disadvantageous to the government.

He also objected to the idea of making Po a state witness in the case because “he appears to be the most guilty.”

“In fact, as things stand now, Mr. Po is the only person who could already be convicted of the crime charged because of his admission that his corporation received part of the alleged overpriced amount,” he said.










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