MANILA, April 20, 2004
By Evelyn Macairan - A bum stomach made presidential aspirant Eddie Gil miss his arraignment on a bouncing check case, which may compel the court to stop his campaign dead in its tracks.

A Makati City judge issued yesterday a warrant of arrest for Gil for failing to appear for his arraignment on a bouncing check case filed against him in 2001. The self-proclaimed billionaire allegedly issued a check for P270,000 for musical instruments.

Gil was only recently allowed by the Supreme Court to continue his campaign after the Commission on Elections disqualified him from the presidential race for being a nuisance candidate.

Acting on Gil’s petition for a temporary restraining order, the high court issued a status quo order to the Comelec, telling it to allow Gil to resume his campaign.

Judge Evelyn Arcaya-Chua of the Makati City municipal trial court (MCMTC) Branch 63 said Gil, standard-bearer of the Partido Isang Bansa, Isang Diwa (PIBID), would have "to derail his campaign trail."

Chua, however, also set a P1,000 benchmark bail. If Gil complies with the court order, he would be granted temporary liberty.

Gil, who is fighting tooth and nail to pursue his hopes of becoming president, was charged with one count of bouncing check along with PIBID chairwoman Elizabeth Samson.

When reached for comment, Samson said they were aware there was a scheduled court hearing but were not able to attend because Gil had been vomiting due to apparent food poisoning.

She explained that Gil went around Quezon City on Sunday evening to campaign and ate in different food establishments.

In one of the outlets along Elliptical Road, Gil unknowingly ate spoiled food and was poisoned.

"Na-dehydrate siya kasi panis iyong pagkain (He was dehydrated because his food was spoiled)," Samson said.

"A bench warrant was issued for the bail of P1,000," Ryan Cruz, private prosecutor representing RJ Music City Inc., said.

Cruz said the judge was left with no choice but to issue a bench warrant since it is usually done when an accused does not appear at an arraignment.

Court records show that sometime in year 2001, Gil purchased various musical instruments and accessories at the RJ Music City Inc. located at Park Square in Makati City.

Gil, who claims to have $20 billion in assets, issued a postdated Planter’s Bank check amounting to P270,000 on Nov. 16, 2001 but it was dishonored.

He again gave an Equitable PCI Bank check of the same amount on Jan. 21, 2002 but after 90 days, this also bounced.

"(The Equitable PCI Bank check was) subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for reason of ‘stop payment/ insufficient funds," court records stated.

The court said Gil, a resident of Suite 2451-54 Guadalupe Mansion, J.P. Rizal Extension, Makati City, was only able to produce P10,000.

RJ Music, represented by Precila Arellano, filed one count of bouncing check or violation of Batasang Pambansa 22 against Gil and Samson as both of them signed the check.

The court made four attempts to conduct a preliminary investigation but Gil reportedly "failed to submit their controverting evidence." The case is now being resolved based on the evidence presented by the plaintiff.

In February, Gil figured in a tense standoff in Cagayan de Oro City after he issued a bouncing check to pay his and his staff’s hotel bill amounting to P35,000. He later paid in cash.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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