Presidential spouse Jose Miguel Arroyo is a natty dresser and a man of many suits. But his critics are finding out his favourite is the libel suit. Mr Arroyo has sued or is suing six politicians, two publishers, and 12 editors and writers. Two weeks ago, he threatened to sue three more journalists and, this weekend, another congressman. His critics say he uses the courts as a political tool. But Mr Arroyo, who could not be reached for comment, has claimed his critics have maliciously and falsely accused him of corruption. The claims include vote-buying for his wife President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's 2004 poll victory, money laundering, demanding illegal gambling payoffs and influence peddling. He has also said they called him fat. In an 11 million peso (HK$1.68 million) damages suit against Lito Banayo, a columnist and spokesman for opposition senator Panfilo Lacson, Mr Arroyo complained Mr Banayo had described him as el esposo gordo (the fat spouse). This description was 'obviously meant to denigrate me for my rotundity', Mr Arroyo complained. Two weeks ago, Mr Arroyo showed Mr Banayo he was serious. Appearing in court for a pretrial hearing, Mr Arroyo brought along bomb-sniffing dogs and presidential palace guards, who barred the media from the proceedings. The judge, Concepcion Alarcon-Vergara, ordered Mr Banayo's lawyer to cross-examine Mr Arroyo without being given time to study Mr Arroyo's 102-page testimony. 'I want to dispose of this case immediately because the complainant [Mr Arroyo] is a very busy man,' the judge said. Last week, eight policemen entered the legislature trying to arrest Senator Jinggoy Estrada, son of jailed president Joseph Estrada, over a 10 million peso criminal libel suit filed by Mr Arroyo five months ago. The young Estrada had linked him to alleged smugglers in a privileged speech inside the legislature. The arrest was thwarted only by the intervention of Senate president Manuel Villar, who reminded authorities that lawmakers were constitutionally immune from arrest if the crime - like libel - was punishable with less than six years in jail. Last week, Malaya newspaper publisher Jake Macasaet, along with his editors and reporters, were compelled to attend a pretrial conference after being arraigned on Mr Arroyo's libel charges. All have pleaded not guilty to maliciously publishing a May 2004 article in which former opposition senator Francisco Tatad named Mr Arroyo as 'chief cheating operator'. Mr Tatad, however, was dropped from the charge sheet after he claimed he was misquoted. Ellen Tordesillas, Malaya's chief of reporters, was originally among those accused, but she was dropped from the case for unknown reasons. The cancer-stricken journalist said the case had shown her first-hand how such suits were 'really expensive' in terms of time, money and effort. 'I had to go to court even if I had just finished chemotherapy,' she complained. 'Law suits are one way to pressure the media into silence by intimidation.' Mr Arroyo believes law suits defend his rights. Shortly after the May 2004 polls, he said: 'Enough is enough. I think I could exercise my rights after the elections, and one of these rights is to sue people who malign me.'