Ligots skip Senate hearing due to illness

By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 24 2011 09:57 AM | Updated as of Mar 24 2011 10:19 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Former military comptroller Jacinto Ligot and his wife, Erlinda, will not attend Thursday's Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing on military corruption. The two reportedly asked to be excused from the hearing because they're both sick.

In a letter to Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Teofisto Guingona III, Atty. Rafael Zialcita--the Ligots' lawyer--said Mrs. Ligot is suffering from "severe palpitations and acute gastroenteritis." Retired Gen. Ligot, meanwhile, "is now down with the flu."

Former Armed Forces chief of staff Roy Cimatu will also not be able to attend the hearing. In his letter, he said he has an urgent trip to the province to attend to his ailing 90-year-old father.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada earlier warned the Ligots that they could be detained at the Senate if they continue to stay silent on their alleged ill-gotten wealth.

Estrada said the Ligots could be cited for contempt and will not be allowed to leave the Senate if they continue to invoke their rights against self-incrimination.

He said senators want answers on several questions including who booked Mrs. Ligot's 42 foreign trips from 1999 to 2004 and who was her constant companion during the trips.

During Monday's hearing, Erlinda said she first went to the United States in 1981 but could not remember anymore when she took her last trip.

She also would not answer if her husband knew of her alleged travels, despite an earlier pronouncement by the former military comptroller that he has not been asked for his permission several times.

She also did not identify her “constant companion” during the trips. Earlier Senate hearings showed that Ligot often accompanied Teresita Reyes, wife of the late defense chief Angelo Reyes, during the trips.

Mrs. Ligot admitted to owning lots in San Antonio, Nueva Ecija and Tarlac, but would not say whether her family owned many more in the United States and even in Manila.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has summoned several resource persons for Thursday's hearing including former military chiefs Roy Cimatu and Diomedio Villanueva, former military budget officers George Rabusa and Perla Valerio, Mrs. Ligot's brother, Edgardo Yambao, and former comptrollers and finance officers of the Armed Forces.