Arroyo staff says he returned the Pajero to Napocor

Posted at 11/23/12 6:48 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- The former chief of staff of Ang Galing Pinoy party-list Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo insisted he returned to the National Power Corporation (Napocor) the vehicle loaned to him in 2008.

In a statement released Friday, Atty. Antonio Mariano Almeda said reports linking his name to the Mitsubishi Pajero seized from an alleged American drug dealer in Makati City was "a complete surprise" to him.

Almeda said he has never met suspect Brian Hill, who is accused of selling illegal drugs.

"I never delivered the Pajero to him. I have never been to his residence. I have no idea how he came to possess the Pajero or how the Pajero wound up in his garage," he said.

Almeda said the vehicle was indeed loaned to Arroyo's office in 2008 for his use.

However, he returned the Pajero vehicle to Napocor  immediately after Arroyo's chairmanship of the energy committee ended in 2009, he said.

"I returned the vehicle to Napocor after I ceased serving Congressman Arroyo in an official and professional capacity at the end of 2009. I have not possessed or used or driven the Pajero since then.  As far as I recall, I ordered my driver to return the Pajero and was given a check-list by Napocor as proof of delivery of the Pajero," Almeda said.

He also reiterated the Philippine National Police-Anti Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force's report that the Napocor-owned vehicle was "last seen (at) nightclubs in August 2010 somewhere in Manila and it was not Almeda who was using it."

The Napocor, meanwhile, earlier denied receiving the vehicle from Almeda.

Manuel Luis Plofino, Napocor’s legal officer, said, "I can categorically say that we did not receive the vehicle from him, and no records in our office will show that we have received the vehicle from him.”