Story on overseas account a lie, says Philippine chief

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo went on national TV yesterday to accuse an opposition congressman of telling lies by claiming her family kept hundreds of millions of dollars in a German bank.
"I would like to tell the people of a great 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," Arroyo said in rare TV comments broadcast live about the latest scandal surrounding her.
Cayetano first mentioned the alleged account during a debate last month in the House of Representatives on an impeachment complaint against Arroyo on allegations of vote-rigging, corruption and human rights abuses.
Cayetano said the alleged account was only one of many pieces of evidence the opposition wasn't allowed to reveal because the president's congressional allies voted to throw out the complaint on a technicality. Last year, Arroyo's allies in the House threw out a similar complaint.
Arroyo's husband, Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo, had already filed 13 libel complaints demanding 30 million pesos (US$588,235) in damages from Cayetano. Lawyers for the Arroyo family said the lawsuits were prompted by statements Cayetano made outside Congress, where his legislative immunity did not apply.
"The public has been shown the official bank documents belying his claims but he insists on beating around the bush rather than face the challenge squarely," Arroyo said. "He should be man enough to admit his mistake. My husband and I have been officially cleared by HypoVeirensbank, the alleged depository of our nonexistent account."
The president said she broke her silence "because I can no longer allow my family to be pilloried in this manner by a man who I have thought to bear the honor and principle of a respected father and senator of the republic."
Arroyo has been criticized for failing to explain adequately the most serious scandal since she came to power in 2001, the alleged cheating in the 2004 elections.
Opposition Representative Francis Escudero, the House minority leader, asked why Arroyo did not address other allegations of wrongdoing. "In choosing only Alan (Cayetano) and focusing on the German account and keeping silent on other accounts, properties and allegations, is she admitting that the others are true? And if lies indeed, then afford him every chance to present his case at the proper forum where they too can show that indeed these are lies."
Cayetano was nursing a bad cough and would comment today, his colleagues said.