MANILA — For being suspected of lying and evasive in answering questions during a hearing, the Senate ordered Monday, August 22, 2011, the detention of Rowena del Rosario, who claimed to be a bookkeeper of Negros Occidental Congressman Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo, a brother of former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.
The hearing was about an alleged chopper scam involving Mike Arroyo whose company, LTA Inc., reportedly sold in 2005 second-hand helicopters to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
It was alleged that the helicopters were passed on as brand new. Del Rosario was summoned by the senators to testify on the dubious sale transactions that allegedly yielded big profits to Arroyo.
Earlier witnesses testified in the Senate inquiry that the helicopters were owned by Mike Arroyo, but Del Rosario contradicted this claim and told the senators that Congressman Arroyo owned the aircraft. She also said that she was the bookkeeper of Iggy Arroyo, not of LTA Inc.
However, some senators noted that she was lying and was just protecting the interests of the Arroyo brothers.
Grilled by the senators, she insisted that she did not record in the LTA books some P18 million representing several payments for the maintenance of the helicopters. She said all the payments were in cash and the money came from “Cong Iggy,” insisting that her boss was the congressman, not the former First Gentleman.
Her statements were contradicted by the statements of another woman witness, her “kumare,” who is an employee of Lion Air which was the company that leased the helicopters before these were sold to the PNP.
At one point, Senators Panfilo Lacson and Jinggoy Estrada accused Del Rosario of fooling the Senate.
“If you insist on fooling this committee and or become very evasive, we can at any time cite you in contempt and hold you indefinitely,” Lacson warned her.
“We just like to remind you because you’ve been fooling us. Kala mo sira ulo namin lahat dito? Yung iba, pero hindi lahat,” Lacson added.
Later, Lacson moved to cite the witness in contempt. Twelve senators signed the arrest and detention order during a caucus.
The 12 senators were Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee which is conducting the hearing; Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile; and Senators Lacson, Estrada, Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Gregorio Honasan, Antonio Trillanes IV, Sergio Osmena, Franklin Drilon, Edgardo Angara and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.
Guingona said Del Rosario will be detained in the Senate “indefinitely.”