MANILA, Philippines – Former first gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo, who left for Hong Kong last Sunday, may face contempt charges if he fails to appear before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, Senator Franklin Drilon said.
“Kung nasa labas siya ng bansa, admittedly, hindi mo masu-subpoena. But I don't think he should do that because, as we say, flight is evidence of guilt,” Drilon said.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee said putting Arroyo on the immigration watch list would be pointless since he has already left the country.
This was in response to reports that the Department of Justice is drafting an order to place Arroyo under the immigration watch list.
"I instructed Chief [Justice Ricardo] Paras first to confirm officially if there is really a request from the Senate because it was reported in the media na there's a request from certain senators to put him on watch list. So once that is verified, then I am inclined to issue a WLO (watch list order)," Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said.
Arroyo is undergoing medical treatment and examination in Hong Kong after last Friday’s cervical spine surgery on his wife, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Arroyo’s lawyer Innocencio Ferrer Jr. maintained Arroyo will return to the country as soon as possible to face the charges against him.
“Mr. Arroyo’s check up in Hong Kong will be completed by tomorrow, August 4, 2011. As soon as medical clearance is given, he will return to the Philippines to address the malicious issues raised against him. We assure the public that Mr. Arroyo ready to answer the false and baseless allegations hurled against him by people who want him dragged in the controversy they themselves created,“ Ferrer said in a statement.
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Teofisto Guingona III earlier said Arroyo will be summoned to explain his involvement in alleged anomalous Philippine National Police (PNP) purchase of pre-owned choppers in 2009.
Arroyo was tagged by Lion Air President Archibald Po as the owner of the 2 second-hand helicopters that were sold as brand new to the PNP. -- Report from Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News