Former First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo cannot dispute the fact that he owned two used choppers which were sold to the Philippine National Police (PNP) as brand new, based on the testimonies and circumstantial and documentary evidence presented to the Senate, Senator Franklin Drilon said Sunday.
The testimonies of Archibald Po, president of Lionair Inc. where the alleged Arroyo-owned choppers were registered, Hilario de Vera, president of Manila Aerospace Products Trading (Maptra), Lionair’s agent that sold the choppers to the PNP, and members of the police brass involved in the chopper fiasco would be enough to prove that Mike Arroyo should be charged, Drilon added.
“In my view, there is no way that Mike Arroyo could disprove the fact that he was the real owner of the choppers. If he would insist that he disowns the choppers, then he should execute an affidavit holding Archibald Po and Lionair free and harmless of any liability in the event that Mr. Po donates the helicopters to the PNP,” Drilon said in a radio interview.
During the Senate Blue Ribbon investigations, Drilon noted the apparent collusion of officials with Mike Arroyo to “tailor fit” the technical characteristics of Arroyo-owned choppers—two Robinson R44 Raven 1 helicopters.
Drilon likewise questioned the PNP Uniform and Equipment Standardization Board and the National Police Commission then headed by former Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno as to the reason why the alterations to the specifications were made to make it appear that the PNP needed Mike Arroyo’s Raven 1 choppers for the operation of the elite Special Action Force.
Further evidence, as testified by Lionair collections agent Edith Solano-Juguan that she was collecting “maintenenace fees” that Lionair charged to LTA Inc. which was owned by Mike Arroyo’s family, would cement the fact that Arroyo owned the choppers. Solano-Juguan said that she would go to LTA Bldg. in Makati City to collect the monthly maintenance fees.
At the same time, Domingo Lazo, former Lionair flight dispatcher, told Senate probers that from March 2004 until he resigned the company in June 2009, Mike Arroyo would instruct him as to whether any member of the First family, including him, would use the choppers.
“Beyond reasonable doubt, I think it was already established that Mike Arroyo owned the helicopters,” said Drilon.
Drilon also warned PNP officials involved in the negotiations to tell the truth, as they could be equally guilty for a graft case and conspiracy “to enter into a contract that is grossly disadvantageous to the government.”