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‘My mistake’, says Mikey of US house

MANILA – Rep. Mikey Arroyo (Lakas-Kampi, Pampanga) says he made a mistake in trying to explain how he obtained the $1.3-million (P63.7-million) beachfront house he owns in San Francisco, California.
He told a radio station Sept. 8 that no one is to blame but himself for his failure to credibly explain how he increased his wealth, particularly the beach front property in the San Francisco Bay Area in California.
But his confession did not prevent a group of government employes to file criminal charges against Mikey for his alleged non-declaration of the true worth of his assets and unexplained wealth.
The Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage) in its seven-page complaint-affidavit has asked the Office of the Ombudsman to order Rep. Arroyo to explain how his net worth “suddenly ballooned to a staggering P61.8 million in 2005″ from zero in his first year in public office.
“While government employees religiously filed in their SALN [Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth] the last centavo of their properties, a simple discrepancy or even oversight could lead to an immediate investigation or in some cases the conduct of a lifestyle check. A case of perjury or even graft because of unexplained wealth could be an instant remedy,” the complaint asserted.
Named complainants to the case are Ferdinand Gaite, Courage president; Rosario Deblois, first vice president; Rosalinda Nartates, second vice president; Soledad Belvis, NCR secretary-general, and coordinators Mercy Catalan and Roman Mamolo.
The eldest son of President Arroyo said he looked bad in front of the public because he could not cope with Solita “Winnie” Monsod’s style of questioning when she interviewed him on GMA-7’s “Unang Hirit” 10 days ago.
In the meantime, activists in California staged a demonstration in front of the Arroyo home which according to reports is now on sale. The opposition in Manila also called for an investigation into Mikey’s statements that he bought the house from campaign contributions and gifts to his wedding two years ago.
“If my answers to those questions seem a little confused, ako lang po ang dapat sisihin. It’s my mistake alone. Sana po I passed on this issue to my accountant, to my lawyer, because they are the ones who actually prepare these documents,” he told dzRH.
Mikey, who stuttered during the GMA-7 interview, said Monsod’s interrogatory style may have caused the people to believe that he is guilty of allegations he has ill-gotten wealth.
Arroyo said he could have easily avoided appearing in the early morning show for the interview but he decided to show up to prove he was not hiding anything.
Mikey has said part of his multi-million wealth came from campaign donations, wedding gifts and real property investments, like the San Francisco Bay property which he said was declared in his statement of assets and liabilities and net worth (SALN) as part of his 40 percent shares in the Beach Way Park LLC.
The donations and gifts, he said, were partly the reason his declared net worth ballooned from P5.7 million in 2001 to P74.4 million in 2004 and then to P99.2 million last year.
Ruy Rondain, the Arroyos’ lawyer, said Mikey?s wife, Angela Montenegro, is also “independently wealthy.”
Rondain said the campaign contributions and wedding gifts that Mikey had received were all part of the requirements he submitted to the Comelec and in his SALN.
“Congressman Mikey will stand by doon sa lahat ng nakadeklara sa SALN and sa Comelec, yung compliance niya,” he said.
VERA Files, which reported on Mikey’s wealth, has said the congressman failed to declare to campaign contributions to the Comelec.
Mikey is the 23rd in the list of richest congressmen with P99 million declared assets while his brother, Rep. Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo (Lakas-Kampi, Camarines Sur), was 28th with P89 million.
Their uncle Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo (Lakas-Kampi, Negros Occidental) still had the highest net among them, at P140 million, making him the 13th richest House member.
In the interview with Monsod, Mikey said: “When I got married I received many gifts. Then during the campaign I got a lot of help. It’s not that much, but it helped and we had some good investments,” he explained in Filipino.
The Pampanga congressman, during the interview, even lamented that Monsod didn’t look convinced with his explanation. He also advised his critics to file a case against him in court.
The house at 1655 Beach Park Blvd. in Foster City, California remains registered in the name of Angela Arroyo Montenegro, wife of Mikey, data from the San Mateo County assessors office show.
The latest entry in the assessor?’ office was dated April 2008 and shows Angela as the “grantee” of the property, which Mikey said he had already transferred to a company called Beach Way Park LLC as a way of explaining why the property did not appear in his 2007 and 2008 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).
“(The house) is registered under Beach Way Park LLC in which I am a shareholder and which I declared in my SALN,” Mikey said in reaction to the VERA Files report.
The VERA Files report had cited an entry in Mikey’s SALN for 2008 in which he declared himself a “shareholder” in Beach Way Park, a company sharing the same address, “Beach Park Blvd, California,” as his Foster City property.

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