MANILA, Philippines - Calling the Senate's probe "prosecutorial" and "outrightly vindictive," Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo on Friday rejected the invitation given by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee for him to appear in its hearing Monday on alleged irregularities in the sale of second-hand helicopters to the Philippine National Police.
Arroyo, a brother of former First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo, said in a press statement that he is declining the invitation because he is currently in London "and more importantly, because there is a clear agenda that some senators have admitted, which can no longer be in pursuit of the legislative mandate of the committee to conduct proceedings in aid of legislation."
He said he has already presented to the public a supposed lease agreement executed on March 16, 2004 between the Arroyos' LTA Inc. and Lionair Inc., which shows that the husband of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo did not own the helicopters sold to the police.
"Thereafter, newspaper reports have quoted certain senators as saying that they do not believe my 'claim' that 'Mike Arroyo was not the owner of the helicopters,'" Rep. Arroyo said. "Moreover, these senators now question the genuineness of the Lease Agreement and have begun to act as lawyers for Mr. Archibald Po of Lionair Inc., the main proponent of the vicious lies seeking to implicate my brother."
Senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, has expressed doubts on the veracity of the the alleged lease contract, saying it could have been tampered.
Lacson, who reviewed the document, said he found at least 3 inconsistencies. "Ito rin ang magbabaon sa kanila dahil malinaw dito na kung i-examine iyung mismong lease agreement, dinu-doktor nila. Ang conclusion dito, pwede silang ma-charge ng falsification, at iyung notary public, pwedeng ma-disbar."
Senator Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, dared Rep. Arroyo to produce the check he paid to Lionair Inc. to support his claim that he only leased the helicopters.
Rep. Arroyo said senators do not have the authority to evaluate the agreement.
"By alleging certain assumed discrepancies in the Lease Agreement itself, the senators would attempt to make a judicial evaluation of the validity of the subject Lease Agreement, which is unmistakably the prerogative and authority of our judicial courts," he said.
"Even the demands of inter-parliamentary courtesy are being sought to be ignored and set aside, in pursuit of this very sad orchestrated agenda which can only be politically motivated," the Negros Occidental congressman said.
"The ongoing Senate inquiry can only be described as prosecutorial, if not outrightly vindictive. The announcements of particular Senators already manifest an evident bias, and an undisguised plot to humiliate the Arroyo family. I refuse to be a hapless pawn in this wild witch hunt propelled by political motive," said Rep. Arroyo.
He said his brother has filed a perjury case filed with the Pasay City prosecutors office a perjury case against against the Lionair Inc. owner.
He added that the the lease agreement was attached to the formal complaint, which the Pasay City prosecutor will have to evaluate.
"For all the reasons mentioned above, I will decline attending the Senate inquiry proceedings. The Blue Ribbon Committee is already privy to the existence of the Lease Agreement between LTA and Lionair Inc.," he said. " If there is any issue to be clarified or established, regarding the valid, regular, and legal document that the Lease Agreement represents, I demand that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee immediately address its recommendations to the appropriate agencies and courts of justice."