LTA GUARDS TO SENATE SERVERS: 'SORRY JOSE PIDAL DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE'

METRO MANILA, August 28, 2003 (STAR) This in sum is what guards on the eighth floor of LTA Building, 118 Perea St., Legaspi Village, Makati told Senate process servers when they tried to serve an invitation for Pidal to appear before the chamber next Tuesday.

Three Senate committees led by the Blue Ribbon will begin an inquiry into the corruption and money laundering charges leveled by opposition Sen. Panfilo Lacson against First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.

LTA Building is owned by the family of Mr. Arroyo. The 8th floor is where the President’s husband holds office, while two lower floors are occupied by "The Firm," the law office of F. Arthur "Pancho" Villaraza, the Arroyos’ personal lawyer.

The building’s guards also refused to receive invitations for Victoria Toh, Mr. Arroyo’s personal secretary, her brother Thomas and her brother-in-law Kelvin Tan.

Lacson claims that Pidal is actually Mr. Arroyo, who he said is using that false name, the Tohs and Tan to hide tens of millions in illegal funds.

Bank documents in Lacson’s possession show that the First Gentleman, Pidal, the Tohs, and Tan have one and the same business address: 8th floor, LTA Building.

They also keep money in the same UnionBank branch along Perea street, although Pidal, according to Lacson, had an account with BPI-Family Bank (head office), while Tan had another account in International Exchange Bank (Perea branch).

Pidal and Mr. Arroyo also have the same financial adviser in Ronald Gin of the United States-based Morgan Stanley investment firm.

In another development, Lacson asked the Blue Ribbon Committee yesterday to invite his abducted or rescued principal witness, Eugenio Mahusay Jr., to Tuesday’s hearing.

He said the witness’ address is c/o housing secretary Mike Defensor, Atrium Building, Makati City.

He also suggested that Erwin Lapus and Ferdinand Galvez of UnionBank be invited as well.

These are in addition to 13 other witnesses whose names he earlier submitted to the hearing committees.

Meanwhile, the secretary of Mr. Arroyo expressed apprehension over his safety after he was named by Lacson as one of his witnesses who was reported missing.

Rommel Javier also questioned Lacson for dragging his name in the senator’s effort to justify his false accusations against the First Gentleman.

"I am now afraid that something will happen to me and my family after my name was mentioned as Lacson’s witness. Let me repeat that I never met and talked to Senator Lacson. I do not know him," Javier said in Filipino.

Javier added that members of media or anybody can call or visit him at the LTA building to prove that he is not missing or hiding.

"I am working at LTA and will continue to do so. Dito po ako sa eighth floor nagtratrabaho. Anyone can visit or talk to me," Javier said.

At the same time, Javier’s co-workers appealed to Lacson to stop using innocent people to pin down his enemies.

"Please Senator Lacson, huwag naman ninyo kaming gamitin baka kung sino naman uli ang banggitin ninyong pangalan na hindi naman totoo," the LTA employees said.

In another development, Ginebra San Miguel Inc. (GSMI) denied that one of its employees was a regular contributor to Mr. Arroyo’s war chest.

GSMI, formerly La Tondeña Distillers Inc., in a statement said it has no employee nor any personnel by the name of Benjamin Chua, mentioned by Mahusay as among several persons who allegedly delivered millions of pesos to the office of Mr. Arroyo.

Other units, subsidiaries and offices of San Miguel Corp. have no employee by that name, SMC likewise stated. — Jess Diaz


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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