Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Business Mirror, September 13, 2006 edition, p. A6.

Before she went overseas, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced that the Guimaras Island oil spill was “effectively contained.”  What did she intend to convey by “effectively contained”, that the oil spill was prevented from spreading any further?  Or, did she use “effectively” as a substitute for “sort of?” Same difference? How about the Jose Pidal issue, was it “effectively” or “sort of” contained? Let’s see.

In August 2003, Sen. Panfilo Lacson alleged that Atty. Mike Arroyo was Jose Pidal, a big depositor in Union Bank and Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI).  Atty. Arroyo told Lacson, “Take me to court.”  Arroyo’s wife, Gloria, told the public, “Mr. Lacson has gone far enough. His so-called Pidal exposes of money laundering and corruption are nothing more than malicious intrigues designed to strain marital and family relations. His claims are painful, though unsubstantiated. ”

In August 2006, Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano made a similar allegation, adding only a German bank account and a property in Caloocan City. Mike Arroyo retaliated with a libel suit against Cayetano, a petition for his expulsion from the Batasan, and a call for his disbarment. This time, Mrs.  Arroyo told the public, “I would like to tell the people of a grave injustice done to my family by Congressman Alan Peter Cayetano. He has shamelessly peddled the lie that my family is maintaining a bank account in Munich, Germany amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars…”

Before she took over Malaca?ang in 2001, Mrs. Arroyo was caught not declaring her conjugal properties in the US.  She would have been in real trouble were it not for Ignacio Arroyo who suddenly appeared out of nowhere and claimed he was the real owner of the undeclared US properties.

In August 2003,  following Sen. Lacson’s expose, Ignacio Arroyo reappeared and claimed that, from 1997 to 2000, he had opened, closed, reopened, and re-closed  a BPI account under the name Jose Pidal.  That was after BPI certified they did not have a bank account under that name.  In 2006, a German bank certified they had no accounts under the name of Mike or Gloria Arroyo.

In September 2003, Malaca?ang  issued a statement distancing Mrs. Arroyo from her husband,  “ she does not interfere with her husband’s private business…”  Four months later, in a live TV interview with Max Soliven, Mrs. Arroyo said the unspent contributions to her vice-presidential campaign were kept in Jose Pidal’s account. But, more significant than placing  substantial  deposits in an account she originally claimed was her husband’s private business, Mrs. Arroyo reported to the Comelec that her vice presidential campaign contributions and expenses were as follows,  “Campaign Contributions: P50,211,432.00/Campaign Expenses: P50,211,432.00 ”  Where did the “unspent contributions” come from?

In late 2003, the Senate asked Ignacio Arroyo how and where he got the millions to deposit in the Jose Pidal account. He was then declaring a taxable income of only a little over P130, 000 a year. Ignacio Arroyo refused to answer.

In April 2005, reporters asked Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima if the BIR was  investigating Ignacio Arroyo for tax evasion. Purisima replied, “We are not at liberty right now to give you a list or specific future cases. We are just finance people … we are not privy to who is chosen to be investigated or charged with tax evasion.”

In August 2006, one of the impeachment charges against Mrs. Arroyo was, “After the Jose Pidal account of Jose Miguel T. Arroyo was exposed, which account was claimed by respondent’s brother-in-law, Mr. Ignacio T. Arroyo, the respondent failed and refused, as she continues to fail and refuse, to cause the prosecution of Jose Pidal for tax fraud for failure to report his income subject of the Jose Pidal account. Her mis-declaration of assets and liabilities continues.”

In September 2006, radio reporter Anthony Taberna asked Mike Arroyo, “Hindi ho ba ina-accuse kayo ni Sen. Lacson na si Mr. Jose Pidal?” Mike Arroyo replied, “Teka muna! Wala kaming pakialam diyan! We are now on this Cayetano …You’re diverting to Lacson!”

Back to square one.