, FEBRUARY 9, 2011 (TRIBUNE) By Aytch S. de la Cruz - The Palace expressed awe at the display of wealth of the spouses of military generals being accused of plundering military funds, a reaction which was far dif-ferent when it faced recent questions on the line of ritzy vehicles that President Aquino was seen in.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said he was surprised to learn that Ligot owned a number of illegally-acquired homes and other properties in the United States, not to mention the jetsetting habits of his wife.

Lacierda expressed no inclination to buy the alibi of former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) comptroller, retired Brig. Gen. Jacinto Ligot, with respect to his unexplained wealth that was uncovered by the Senate blue ribbon committee the other day.

Lacierda told reporters that it’s uncommon for some-one like Ligot to just assert that he does not know anything about his wife’s 42 travels abroad as well as his constant claims that he doesn’t remember anything whenever he’s being questioned by the lawmakers concerning the allegations against him.

“I personally was shocked on the number of houses. I

personally was shocked on the number of houses. I personally was shocked on the number of trips that the [military] wives traveled. I personally was shocked that the husband did not know that the wife was traveling abroad… It’s something that bothers me I can’t understand that,” Lacierda was quoted saying.

Lacierda, nonetheless, expressed confidence that the members of the Senate blue ribbon panel would somehow find a way in order to get to the bottom of the truth involving Ligot’s unexplained wealth despite his uncooperative answers.

“The course of action of the Senate was probably a logical one. If you want to go to bottom of truth…the best way was to summon those (under) whose name the properties are with. It’s probably a logical conclusion on the part of the Senate,” Lacierda said.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada revealed on Monday that the wife of Ligot owned two houses in California, including one that costs $504,000, located at 1240 South Cabernet Circle, Anaheim, California.

Estrada also disclosed during the third Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on plea bargaining agreement that Mrs. Erlinda Yambao Ligot has also travelled 42 times abroad.

The senator showed to the committee the documents and photos proving that Mrs. Ligot owned the properties that also include a two-storey house with an address at 7102 Stanton Ave. in Buena Park, California, bought in 2004 to the tune of 183,868 U.S. dollars.

When asked where they got the money to buy the US properties, Ligot immediately invoked his right against self-incrimination.

Estrada also showed documents that will prove that Ligot travelled 42 times from 1993 to 2004, including 13 times with Teresita Reyes, wife of former AFP chief of staff Gen. Angelo Reyes.

Despite the documents and photos, Ligot refused to answer the questions about the properties and travels of his wife, again invoking his right against self-incrimination due to his pending case at the Sandiganbayan.

Meanwhile, in relation to the sudden demise of Reyes, Lacierda clarified that the recent Senate and Congress investigations relevant to allegations of large scale military corruption were not meant to indict the entire AFP organization.

Observations were rife that Reyes’ suicide, which has momentarily put some government institutions particularly the military organization at standstill, was caused by the depression he suffered after being dragged in the perceived massive corruption at the AFP during his time.

Reyes, Ligot as well as their other successors were implicated in the issue that stemmed from the government’s determination to revoke the plea bargaining agreement that was entered by the Office of the Ombudsman with alleged plunderer, retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia.

“With respect to the AFP organization, I hope this (corruption issues) doesn’t taint the AFP organization. This is an anomaly that happened during the previous years. We do not wish to say that because of this investigation, the entire AFP is already dirty. That’s not the truth,” Lacierda said.

“Again, whether the soldiers can report on their officers, there is a grievance system where they can do that. We recognize that perhaps some members of the AFP are demoralized but this should not be the case. We believe in the integrity of the AFP leadership. We believe in the integrity of men and women in uniform. There are certain anomalies [but] it was only committed by a few,” Lacierda stated.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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