PALACE DEFENDS FIRST COUPLE'S UNDECLARED ASSETS

GMAManila, May 30, 2003
-- President Arroyo and First Gentleman Jose Miguel
"Mike" Arroyo apparently did not declare some of their properties in their
2002 joint Statement of Assets and Liabilities they recently submitted to
the Office of the Ombudsman.

Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye, during a press briefing yesterday,
said the "so much" increase from P41.5 million in the Arroyos' assets in
1999 when the now Chief Executive was still the country's Vice President to
P72 million in 2002 could have resulted from possible interests on her cash
on hand and cash in banks.

"We know for a fact that... she has cash in banks of approximately P54.4
million (in 1999). So if one's familiar with banking transactions, I
believe... in the interest alone this can (explain) the increase in (their)
assets," Bunye added.

Apparently missing from the First Couple's 2002 SAL are their Lourdes
Tuazon Arroyo building on Perea Street in Makati City; Mrs. Arroyo's house
and lot in Forbes Park, also in Makati City; her house and lot in La Vista
subdivision in Quezon City; a condominium unit on Katipunan Avenue, also in
Quezon City; and Mr. Arroyo's agricultural lot in Negros Occidental.

When asked why these properties are not reflected in the 2002 SAL, Bunye
said, "This (statement) is something prepared, I believe, by (Mrs.
Arroyo's) accountant so... you see, this was signed jointly by the
President and the First Gentleman, so we have here both of their signatures.''

The presidential spokesman added the President did not expect that her SAL
would become a big issue because she had been very transparent about it.

"... this is something which she reported to the Ombudsman and these
records are public records... and it's the policy of the President to be
transparent. So I don't think the President would mind that we would know
that her assets went up by so much,'' Bunye said.

The assets listed are a house and lot in Baguio City purchased in 1977
worth P69.9 million; commercial lot purchased in Tayabas, Quezon, in 1995
(P.17 million); another commercial lot in Antipolo City purchased in 1986
(P.17 million); agricultural lot in San Rafael, Bulacan, purchased in 1995
(P4.7 million); and another agricultural lot in Nasugbu, Batangas (P1.5
million).

Cash on hand (CoH) and cash in banks (CIB) from the reported P54.3 million
in 2001 increased to P55.7 million in 2002; jewelry from P1.2 million in
2001 to P3.2 million in 2002; appliances and furniture from P550,000 in
2001 to P2.05 million in 2002; and law books from P1.5 million in 2001 to
P1.7 million in 2002.

Value of the First Couple's cars of P6.8 million in 2001 remained unchanged
in 2002.
Conspicuously, their Toyota Lexus that they acquired through credit in 2001
worth P3.5 million remain unpaid and declared as a liability in 2002.
(Sherwin C. Olaes, Tribune)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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