Friday, February 8, 2008

Controversial Mike

Anomalies and controversies linked to First Gentleman 'Mike' Arroyo
Source: GMA News Research

Rodolfo Noel I. Lozada Jr.'s statement linking First Gentleman Mike Arroyo to the ZTE deal is just one of several controversies that have hounded the President's husband.

Alleged P50-million payola for telecoms franchise bills

In July 2001, Veronica "Bing" Rodrigo, former correspondence secretary and friend of President Arroyo, alleged that the First Gentleman received a P50-million bribe for the President to recall her veto of the franchise bills of the Philippine Communication Clearinghouse and APC Wireless Interface Network. Rodrigo retracted her accusations a few days later.

Alleged use of PCSO funds as campaign funds

In October 2001, Robert Rivero, axed consultant of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, alleged that First Gentleman Mike Arroyo used PCSO funds in the campaign of certain senatorial candidates and to bribe the media. He claimed that FG Arroyo paid P20.5 million to Bombo Radyo and Radio Mindanao Network; the PCSO and lotto draw announcements did not air in these stations, although some commentators aired pro-administration commentaries. The PCSO publicity department denied Rivero's accusations.

Designation as OFW envoy

In December 2002, President Arroyo designated Mike Arroyo as an OFW envoy so he could represent her in the countries she could not visit. However, critics assailed Arroyo's announcement when they learned that his activities as OFW envoy could be funded by a proposed overseas workers legal assistance fund. They feared that the Arroyo couple would use the funds for her 2004 campaign.

While the President did not recall her husband's designation, the first gentleman voluntarily resigned.

Jose Pidal expose

Sen. Panfilo Lacson's Jose Pidal expose in 2003 further cast First Gentleman Arroyo in bad light. Lacson accused First Gentleman Arroyo of maintaining secret bank accounts to launder money from campaign contributions for the 1998 vice presidential bid of Gloria Arroyo.

First Gentleman Arroyo denied the allegations. His brother, Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo took up the cudgels for him and claimed to be "Jose Pidal" before clamming up and invoking his "right to privacy" during a Senate investigation.

Friend's involvement in importation of rotten rice

Indian trader Kishore Hemlani, allegedly a close friend of First Gentleman Arroyo, also figured that year in a contract involving the importation of 600,000 metric tons of rotten rice worth P9.5 million from India.

Stay in an expensive Las Vegas suite

In 2005, First Gentleman Arroyo drew criticism for staying in a $20,000-a-night MGM Grand Villa in Las Vegas, Nevada, during a Manny Pacquiao-Erik Morales boxing match. Arroyo’s camp said the accommodation was complimentary and not paid for by public funds.

Alleged receipt of jueteng payola

In the same year, witnesses at the Senate hearings on jueteng claimed that First Gentleman Arroyo received protection money for the illegal numbers game. The First Gentleman denied the allegations and left the country momentarily to help "remove distractions and doubts from people’s minds" on President Arroyo's ability to run the government. The Palace, then embattled with both the jueteng and "Hello Garci" controversies, dismissed the accusations against the First Gentleman as mere concoctions by those who wanted to oust the President.

Friend's involvement in fertilizer fund scam

In 2006, the Senate wrapped up a series of hearings on the fertilizer fund scam and concluded that First Gentleman Arroyo's close friend and fellow Makati Rotarian Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc" Bolante diverted agricultural funds to the 2004 electoral campaign of President Arroyo.

Alleged existence of multi-million dollar German bank account

Later that year, then opposition Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano claimed that a member of the Arroyo family maintained a bank account in Germany amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. First Gentleman Arroyo flew to Germany and secured a certification from the bank to disprove Cayetano's claims. Upon his return, sought Cayetano's expulsion from Congress.

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