Mike Arroyo denies link to Malampaya fund scam
MANILA - Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's husband Mike, on Friday, described as "malicious" reports linking him to the misuse of the Malampaya funds.
The former Chief Executive was among the respondents in a complaint for plunder filed before the Ombudsman on Thursday.
In a text message, Mr. Arroyo lambasted a Philippine Daily Inquirer story that says government authorities are investigating a possible link between him and Ruby Tuason, one of those facing plunder raps for the scam.
Arroyo confirmed that Ruby Tuason is the estranged wife of his late cousin Carlos "Butch" Tuason. He, however, denied having any dealings with Ruby.
"I never dealt with Ruby Tuason. Last time I saw her was June 2008 in the wake of my cousin Butch. Butch and Ruby were already separated even when Ruby worked as social secretary of [former president Joseph Estrada]," he said.
"That story is very malicious. What's that? Guilty by association? I had nothing to do with Malampaya fund. Don't even know [Janet Lim] Napoles," he added.
Tuason and Mrs. Arroyo are among 24 people slapped with plunder and graft charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for their alleged involvement in the misuse of P900 million in Malampaya funds.
Tuason, the former social secretary of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, is accused of getting P242.775 million in kickbacks "received through bank withdrawals for a still unidentified principal."
The Department of Justice said a total of P337.775 million in kickbacks from the Malampaya funds were distributed to public officials who participated in the plunder scheme.
Meanwhile, Ferdinand Topacio, Mike Arroyo's spokesman, accused the Aquino administration of going on a witch-hunt by linking his client to the scam.
In a statement, Topacio said Arroyo's relationship with Ruby was "merely of affinity or law, and not of blood" since she is the former wife of his late cousin.
He said the Tuasons had already separated and that Mr. Tuason was already deceased when the alleged transactions regarding the Malampaya funds were happening.
"At this point, whatever connections Atty. Arroyo may have had with Ms. Tuason may be deemed to have been severed," he said.
He also said Arroyo and Ruby never had occasion to meet after Tuason's wake sometime in June of 2008.
"Thus, any insinuation that Atty. Arroyo may have been the recipient of any funds received by Ms. Tuason from Malampaya or any other source for that matter, is not only malicious and libelous, but fantastical and belongs in the realm of fiction," he said.
Topacio urged Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to exercise greater circumspection in making public statements without any iota of proof "lest she becomes like the proverbial 'boy who cried wolf' totally undeserving of belief."
"We appeal and challenge the present government to build its cases first, before shooting its mouth off, to avoid the hilarious spectacle of the courts rebuffing it at every turn whenever it touts the filing of cases against its perceived enemies."
"The legal team of Atty. Arroyo is always ready to disprove the malicious allegations against our client in court, where the battle properly belongs, and not to the hooting throng being whipped up into a lynching frenzy by an administration to cover up its lack of solid achievements and divert public attention away from its own scandals and anomalies."
Mike Arroyo already faces corruption charges at the Sandiganbayan for separate cases on the NBN-ZTE deal and the alleged sale of second-hand choppers to the Philippine National Police.