Philippines' Arroyo accused of graft

An opposition Philippines senator has accused President Gloria Arroyo of mishandling public funds for her election campaign, widening corruption allegations previously focused on her husband.

    Former President Estrada was ousted after similar allegations

    Senator Panfilo Lacson’s accusations come ahead of elections next May in which Arroyo has decided to stand for a fresh term, reversing an earlier pledge not to do so.

    However, Lacson is also intending to stand in the election, which has caused some to speculate his statements are politically motivated.

    “It is my belief that corruption reaches the highest level of this government,” said Lacson, a former national police chief and ally of former President Joseph Estrada, who himself deposed after accusations of corruption.

    Not so clean

    Lacson, who faces arrest after the Supreme Court said he should be retried for an eight-year-old murder case, claimed the president failed to declare millions of pesos in campaign contributions.

    “It is my belief that corruption reaches the highest level of this government”

    Senator Panfilo Lacson


       
    He said former Manila congressman Mark Jimenez admitted giving at least six cheques totalling 38 million pesos ($695,970) to Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo.

    “These cheques were personally given not only to Mr Jose Miguel Arroyo but also to Mrs Gloria Macapagal Arroyo herself,” Lacson said.
       
    Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye reacted by calling the allegation a “brazen lie”. 

    Campaign funds

    Lacson said the Arroyos raised more than 300 million pesos in campaign funds for the 1998 elections when Arroyo secured the vice presidency, but had only reported receiving about 50 million pesos.

    Arroyo was swept to power after Estrada was ousted in a popular revolt in January 2001.
       
    Lacson also said the president allowed a non-government organisation (NGO) to obtain a two-million-peso fund from a lottery agency owned by the government to print posters for her 2004 presidential campaign.

    SOURCE: AFP


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