Iggy widow returns home sans remains

- Rudy Santos () - February 5, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The legal wife of Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo failed to bring home his remains from London, her legal counsel confirmed yesterday.

Lawyer Lorna Kapunan, who accompanied Iggy’s estranged wife, Alicia “Aleli” Arroyo, in London last Feb. 1, said they were returning to the country without his body because his companion Grace Ibuna interceded that his remains be cremated there.

Aleli, together with Kapunan, was expected to arrive from London via Abu Dhabi at around 9:30 last night on an Emirates Air flight.

“We were surprised this morning, London time, when we talked with the solicitor of the funeral parlor, that they received latest instructions from their client, so I asked who’s your client because we’re talking with Bianca (daughter) and the funeral parlor said their client is Grace Ibuna and the latest instruction was to cremate Iggy in the UK,” Kapunan said in Filipino.

“How can that be? And who’s this Grace Ibuna giving instructions? She’s not the next of kin,” she said, adding that Ibuna called up the funeral parlor saying that Iggy’s marriage with Aleli has been annulled.

Kapunan had been coordinating with Bianca, Iggy’s eldest daughter with first wife Marilyn Jacinto regarding the repatriation and airlifting of his remains.

According to Kapunan, the lawyer of the funeral parlor should have exercised due diligence by investigating or asking to be provided with court records on the alleged annulment of the marriage.

“The best evidence is a court record on annulment. Have they asked a copy of the court order (declaring) the annulment of their marriage? What if three (wives) went there claiming to be the next of kin, what will they do? Will they believe all of them?” Kapunan said.

She added the Philippine embassy in London has certified that Aleli is Iggy’s legal wife.

No cremation yet

Meanwhile, former first gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo said there was no truth to reports that Iggy’s remains were already cremated.

Iggy died at the age of 60 last Jan. 26 of heart attack in a hospital in London where he had been an outpatient since October undergoing treatment for cirrhosis of the liver.

The lawmaker, who had been repeatedly accused of taking the fall for the alleged misdeeds of his only brother, has been described as “very affectionate and kind.”

“We never fought. Even we were kids, we never fought. Whenever we meet, he (Iggy) always kisses me, he’s like that,” Mike said. “When we were young, he was so cute and the favorite of the family, until he died.”

He recalled that Iggy, who was thin as a child, was always the first among the siblings to get sick of mumps, measles and chicken pox or other ailment commons to young children.

Mike said he missed their teenage days when they would both ride motorbikes around their neighborhood in La Vista, Quezon City.

A few nights after he died, Iggy made his presence felt by shaking Mike’s right foot while he was fast asleep.

“I knew it was him because that’s the way he wakes me up. When we were kids, he would often jump on my bed to rouse me from sleep and ask that we play outside,” he said.

The last time Mike spoke with Iggy was the Saturday prior to his death. He said Iggy called him up just to tell him that he was feeling much better and that he thought the treatment he was getting from the doctors was working.

“I was very happy then,” Mike said, adding the last time he saw his brother was in October last year when he visited his wife, former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in the hospital.

After his death, however, he learned from a cousin that doctors in Singapore already warned his brother that he might have only two years to live.

Conkoy Tuason accompanied Iggy to Singapore early last year but Iggy warned Tuason not to tell anybody about the doctors’ warnings.

However, during a family reunion in Hong Kong last year, Mrs. Arroyo noticed that Iggy looked ashen and asked her husband about it. Another consultation with doctors at the St. Luke’s Medical Center suggested a liver transplant. - With Paolo Romero

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