Tuesday, September 30, 2014

‘Moro-moro project biddings in Makati’

By Louis Bacani
The Philippine Star
Vice President Jejomar Binay delivers a speech in Pasig City. Boy Santos
Vice President Jejomar Binay delivers a speech in Pasig City. Boy Santos
MANILA, Philippines – Another former Makati City official corroborated claims that Vice President Jejomar Binay rigged biddings on city projects when he was still mayor.
Ernesto Aspillaga, a two-term councilor, said there were no real biddings from 1996 to 2003 when he was still the head of the Makati City general services department.
“Aaminin ko po, ‘yun po ay bidding-biddingan o sinasabi nga po ay Moro-Moro bidding po,” Aspillaga told Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV during the televised Senate hearing on the Makati City Hall II parking building.
Aspillaga said he was a member of the city government’s bids and awards committee and he used to prepare procurement documents.
When he received purchase requests signed by Binay, Aspillaga said an attached written note already indicated the supplier would win the bidding.
“Pamilyar naman po ako sa kanyang penmanship or handwriting kaya masasabi ko pong siya ang sumulat po noon,” he said.
Aspillaga also claimed that biddings were also rigged during the term of the vice president’s wife, Elenita Binay, as Makati mayor from 1998 to 2001.
The former official also admitted receiving monthly allowance worth P70,000 to P90,000 from Binay. Sometimes, the amount would be from P300,000 to P500,000.
Mario Hechanova, a former general services department head like Aspillaga, was the first to reveal that Binay allegedly gave about P200,000 monthly allowance to local officials to manipulate the bidding for government projects, including the controversial parking building.
Hechanova admitted receiving the allowance from Binay to ensure that favored contractors won the bidding.
Binay and his son, incumbent Makat City Mayor Erwin Binay, are facing a plunder complaint over the costly carpark building. They have denied benefiting from government projects, saying the allegations are politically motivated to malign them.
In a televised national address last week, the elder Binay belittled the witnesses’ testimonies, saying they were only hearsay unsupported by evidence.
Losing bidder denies joining bidding for ‘overpriced’ building
Meanwhile, the testimony of another witness who faced the Senate on Thursday also backed up claims that project biddings in Makati City were rigged.
Alejandro Tengco, head of JBros Construction Corp. which supposedly lost in the bidding for the costly parking building, said they did not even participate in the bidding process.
He said the company never joined bidding for infrastructure projects in Makati and was not even qualified to bid for the controversial parking building.

Marcoses never learned from history

By Erick San Juan
Ferdinand-and-Imelda-Marcos-EDSAOn the eve of the 42nd anniversary of Marcos Martial Law, i happened to browse the facebook comment of former DILG Secretary Rafael Alunan regarding the pros and cons of Marcos military rule and dictatorship. He said that it is best discussed and debated by those who lived through those years, either as spectator or as a protagonist.
“Those who have no idea what it was because they weren’t born yet or too young to understand what it was then, are better off listening, reading, learning and weighing the information,” Alunan said.
The good secretary reiterated that he lived through the Marcos reign until the late president departed and was exiled in Hawaii. He said that former President Ferdinand Marcos 21 years of ruling the country slid from the second best economy in Asia to being the sick man of Asia. Marcos was allegedly booted out by the middle class(although in my book, Marcos was forced to leave the country by the western super elites when they felt that Marcos was shortchanging them in their gold recovery program), the country was reportedly suffering from 3 potent insurgencies, from Muslim secessionists, communist guerillas and the military rebels.
Our foreign debt balooned and was overburdening the economy and eroding our capacity to pay it back.
He added that the exodus of unemployed began to increase steadily during his time with labor unrest in the urban and rural areas were at a boiling point. Protesters were being arrested and maltreated forcing many of them to go underground to join the rebel movements.
I myself joined the camp of Nilo Tayag’s Kabataang Makabayan and during the battle of Mendiola where our group attacked the palace. I was caught and jailed at the Malacanang Park. I was released after several days by an officer with a good heart, then Col. Ramon Cannu of the Presidential security command. My father hid me in San Fernando, Pampanga and I worked and managed my uncle’s business there.
As narrated by Sec. Alunan, disappearances and stories of torture became the new normal. Anyone could be arrested on mere suspicion or whim.
“When the late senator, Ninoy Aquino was murdered upon his return, the economy sank to its knees and interest rates rose to over 50%. The peso depreciated steeply several times. Political patronage in the form of logging concessions denuded our forests. Smuggling sank our revenue collections. Crony capitalism snatched lucrative businesses away from political opponents and the old oligarchs. The wealth shared only among their circles.”
“Impartial historians and academic circles in the world’s capitals of learning have painstakingly chronicled the record of the Marcos dictatorship and it is as ugly as they come from the likes of Ceaucescu, Duvalier and Pinochet eras to name a few, possibly even worse. What is firmly etched in the pages of scholarly papers on how the Philippines fared during the Marcos era must be the subject of public education and discourse. The government coffers were bled dry. Bribes and extortion were hitting the roof.”
Alunan advised that our uninformed need to be taught how to research and comprehend because they are part of the country’s social fabric and the Philippines can ill afford historical revisionism from those who were part of that abusive era and have not to this day, apologized to the people nor undertook any form of just restitution for their past sins to society and to the damage they wrought to the country’s institutions.
Alunan also replied to the request of the Marcos family that he will be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani at the Fort. “If a president is booted out of office, ejected or overthrown by the people, supported by the crucial institutions of the government and society, that extinguishes his right to still be accorded the honors due him. Like a soldier that’s discharged dishonorably, who forfeits all accrued and future benefits due him. To restore it means extinguishing the terrible wrongs committed that merited his overthrow. That would be a mockery of justice and an unwarranted revision of history. We must be clear about what is right or wrong. And live up to our values if we are to be a society worthy of trust and respect.”
With this clear explanation of Sec. Alunan, I am really sorry for what i did in helping this family return home. When I visited them in Hawaii, i pity them.’Sobra awa ko.’ The late president’s entourage in returning home to Ilocos Norte from Hawaii via Guam was really scary. We were stoned and threatened of bodily harm and not one of the group dared to leave the chapels in Hawaii and Guam. I was the one who talked with the angry mob outside the chapel but in Guam, i had a fist fight with several youngsters who tried bullying us. The rest was history.
I didn’t expect that the promises of Marcos ( which he tape recorded in his library in his Makiki residence) to the Filipino people and to those who helped them including the true Marcos loyalists duly documented by Ms. Rosette Yniguez-Lerias, will be in vain and denied by FM’s family.
Recently, I was even told secretly by a close loyalist friend to be careful and Imelda wanted me ‘silenced’. I was aghast, reason why I immediately informed the proper authorities about it. ‘Di pa nga nakakabalik sa Malacanang, nagte-threat na. Much more kung sila na naka upo.’ Anyway, lahat ng maling gawain may KARMA.’
I was tricked!

It was only silver

By Ninfa Leonardia
Visayan Daily Star
Jojo and Junjun Binay
Jojo and Junjun Binay
While the military and police had been saying that there is no ISIS recruitment going on in the country, news yesterday said that ISIS flags were seen being assembled in Marawi. Now that is in Lanao, a place where Muslims make up a good part of the population. Shouldn’t the government start ringing alarm bells on this? The news that the Philippines supports the decision of the United States and all those other countries to wage air strikes in ISIS-controlled areas could make the danger risk greater here.
But it seems our people are not taking the reports seriously even when the news is being underscored on TV. They are more interested in the revelations of former allies of now Vice President Jejomar Binay about illegalities they personally witnessed – and even participated in – at the time Binay was mayor of Makati, up to the time when he had used up the three terms allowed by the Constitutions, and his wife took over. We know, of course, that Mrs. Binay herself was succeeded by their son, Jejomar Jr., better known as “Junjun”.
Yesterday, for instance, the whistle-blowers, Binay version, really went to town in their testimonies, that included visuals, pa. Photographs were shown on a screen right in the Senate, but since they were obviously taken clandestinely, were not very clear. Nevertheless, the lifestyle of its residents were very clear. Some of those who testified were first timers and the repeat one was Binay’s former vice mayor who had the most damaging goods against him.
A new one was a former councilor, Ernesto Apillaga, who openly admitted being part of the bidding anomalies while in office. If Apillaga is to be believed, all the biddings for major infrastructure works in Makati during the Binay administrations were rigged, and that then Mayor Binay would send to them the bid documents with his instruction as to who will be the winner! Those were shocking enough, but is there a paper trail, what solid evidence is holding that could clinch the case against Binay?
Meanwhile, is the Senate smarting because the Binays – Senior and Junior – have snubbed its “invitation” for them to come and clarify their roles in the shenanigans that their former friends and allies are swearing to before the country’s top lawmaking body? Is that why there is said to be a move to cite the younger one in contempt? So far, father and son, and daughters, too, have been vehemently denying all the accusations against them. The father has called them lies and hearsay, while the son says they are being prejudged. One wonders if these cases will ever get anywhere.
This should be welcome news to all salaried workers. Remember the move to set a limit of P70,000 to their bonuses and allowances that could be subject to tax? Well, the head of the Bureau of Internal Revenue does not favor it, but the lower ranking employees in her own office are hoping and praying that such a policy will be adopted. With that amount, only the very highly paid will be affected, and these earning less can enjoy a bigger amount of the extra compensation they receive.
Sorry to have given false hopes to our sports-loving folks. I must have been cross-eyed when I took down the one entry for the Philippines in the list of nations participating in the Asian Games as a “gold” medal when it should have been a silver only. Maybe it was wishful thinking because, as the song goes, “A dream is a wish your heart makes…” Seems that silver is still the only medal our teams have earned so far. So it is still seven golds that we have to hope for. Are they attainable? The sad news is that we lost to Iran in yesterday’s hard-fought game.
What must its subscribers do to wake the officials of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company up to the fact that it is shortchanging them? We mentioned in this column earlier that a disembodied voice always entones “The number you dialed is not yet in service”, when you dial, but you get connected after the second or third time you dial again. Until now, the same thing happens over and over, and a lot of people have confirmed that they are experiencing this, too. It seems the PLDT people there have become callous, and no longer heed feedback from those who pay them regularly for the atrocious service.*

The axis of power shifts

By Jose Ma. Montelibano
Change.2It really must be the moment for dramatic change. Last week, a young man was looking at the pyramid of the Philippine population, looking at the poor at the base, and said, “Tito, let’s flip the pyramid, let’s flip our order of priorities.”
The other day, another one told me, “Tito, I want to write the obituary for poverty among Filipinos and corruption in government,” and he believed it.
Definitely, more people are less afraid to think out of the box. Change is happening by the day, and happening much faster. The funny thing is that it does not seem so if we look at the news, if we listen to the noise, if we witness the minority negative dominate the majority attention. But make no mistake about it – change is happening fast, graphically and dramatically.
There is a paradigm shift, and the shift is not that new anymore. The turn of the wheel was becoming quite noticeable about twenty-five or thirty years ago, when commercial advertising began to focus more and more towards the younger sectors of society. Truly, commercial advertising must be the most powerful propaganda machine in the world. It is committed, it is expert, it is constant. And it spends money like nobody’s business.
We make a lot about the kind of resources and expertise that goes into elections. But they pale compared to what many societies spend for advertising. In the United States for example, advertising expenses must be in the $300 billion range – and that is annual. That’s about 13 trillion pesos a year. Filipino firms must be spending in the 50-billion-peso range annually when there are no elections. In 2016, advertising expenses will shoot up with candidates spending most of their campaign funds on advertisements.
Imagine these huge amounts of money and the expertise behind the marketing and propaganda efforts now focusing on a younger market, much younger than what we might expect. After all, grandchildren can greatly influence what their grandparents buy for them, from food to toys – and cellphones, too. A million call center agents are predominantly young and aggressive spenders, not savers, of their incomes. And the younger generations are also more entrepreneurial, with more and more of them shying away from 9 am – 5 pm jobs to go on their own.
In other words, Philippine society is getting younger, Filipino spenders are getting younger, and the older generations are actually getting more dependent on their children – for advice or for money. Things have flipped dramatically from when I was growing up in the 50′s, and there is only one thing that has yet to make the same impact – youth in political action.
Actually, the youth of 50 years ago were more politically aggressive, or angry. Pre-martial days had the youth more involved in protest action than today. In fact, many of the present-day advocates and the others they directly influence had started in those turbulent times. That is why the non-involvement of the youth today in political action and political change should raise serious questions from change and reform advocates. If the youth now are more independent and active in social and business activities, so much so that they are the primary focused targets of enormous advertising research and expenses, why are they less involved in elections and political reform efforts?
I think that in-depth sociological findings will surprise politicians and political advocates. The youth of today are more wired to what is happening because of communication technology, primarily mobile interconnectivity, the internet and social media. We cannot say that they are apathetic to their environment when they are more dynamically involved in everything else. There is a disconnect somewhere, and not a small one at that.
We have a powerful youth sector who are now the largest electoral base. Their involvement in the political arena, however, tells me their they are rejecting the traditional invitation for political reform and action. They do not agree poverty, not with the environment of corruption in the government sector. They do not agree with the political influence of traditional politicians, but apparently, they do not agree either with the way political advocates and reformists are going about their agenda. It seems that those who want change in the political arena need to change their attitudes and methodologies just as much as they want to change others.
The preponderance of negativity and belligerence turns off the younger generations, and it is not surprising why. What is more surprising is that self-claimed change seekers and agents remain obstinate in using obsolete ways to draw the young into their causes. And the youth, from 5 to 45 years old, largely reject the old ways, the old style. If society does not notice it as much, it is because the young would rather tune out and focus on what they want rather than take to the streets, or to social media, and protest in anger and frustration.
Younger Filipinos who comprise the majority are upbeat, or seriously try to be. Their orientation is hope, or fun. The future to them is imagined to be brighter, and the way to that better future is not one of conflict or negativity but adventure and creativity. The drive for change is not any less strong, but it is shuns the confrontational.
To sum it up, in my view, the idealism of the young – as in other generations at their youthful years – is as vibrant and dynamic today. But that vibrancy and dynamism has a buoyancy, has a nobility, more than a growl. Our children and grandchildren have a range of options, from attitudes they can adopt to enterprises they can be involved in. Their spirit is not as cooped up as ours then despite the continuing poverty and corruption around them.And this new spirit is why the pyramid can be flipped, why obituaries for poverty and corruption can be written.
Jose Rizal was right about the youth as the hope of the motherland. He should have lived in our lifetime because the youth he saw have arrived.

Malacañang’s P10-billion cover up

The list of Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) projects released by Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Butch Abad is one big cover-up to belatedly legitimize the Aquino administration’s illegal and unconstitutional juggling of public funds.
This is the first time Abad has released the so-called “complete” list of DAP projects. We recall that during the oral arguments before the Supreme Court (SC), Abad only submitted seven evidence packets containing only 12 DAP projects and 15 applications of the DAP, with their corresponding Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) and appropriation covers.
Had Abad submitted this complete list, the High Court might have issued an even stronger ruling striking down this Palace-concocted budget.
What is certain, however, is that the list further bolsters the SC’s decision that the DAP violated the constitutional prohibition against the transfer of appropriated funds as well as the legal restriction on funding projects not covered by the budget law.
One such project is the “Activities for Peace Process under the PAMANA Program” under the Office of the President (OP)–Office of the Presidential Adviser (OPAPP) on the Peace Process. The PAMANA (or “Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan”) is the Aquino administration’s purported peace and development program to undertake peace-building, rehabilitation and reconstruction initiatives in conflict-affected areas such as MILF communities in Mindanao.
Under the 2011 General Appropriations Act (RA 10147), Congress only allocated to OPAPP, including its requirements for the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP)–Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) activities, the sum of P235.88-million. Of this amount, P40.28-million was allotted for personnel services, P183.13-million for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and P12.5-million for capital outlays.
Although the PAMANA program was never specifically included in the budget law approved by Congress, it appears that its funding ballooned by almost 800 percent to P1.819-billion under the DAP. Not coincidentally, the funds were released soon after PNoy’s one-on-one meeting with MILF chief Murad Ebrahim in Tokyo, Japan aimed at jumpstarting the stalled peace talks between the government and the MNLF breakaway rebel group.
Curiously, Abad still cannot identify where he sourced OPAPP’s additional P1.6 billion pesos from, even though it has been almost three years since he released the funds. And Abad apparently still has nothing to show for this billion-peso expenditure since his list does not indicate any actual output for the PAMANA program.
There are other multi-billion peso DAP expenditures on Abad’s list which do not reveal the details or the actual output of the project, particularly in cases where the proponents are lawmakers.
For instance, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) was given P2.76 billion for the so-called “Various Infrastructure including Local Projects” (VILP) of legislators. Abad’s list, however, does not say where and what these projects are.
That these infrastructure-cum-local projects were not described in detail and were all listed as VILPs clearly show that these items are, in reality, pork barrel funds of legislators, which were embedded or “inserted” in the DAP.
Perhaps that also explains why some lawmakers got more than others.
Within five months after being sworn in as the 12th winning senator in the 2007 elections, Aquilino Pimentel, a known Palace ally, received five SAROs totaling P90 million. Another Palace ally, Senator Allan Peter Cayetano, got P43.5 million.
Senator Antonio Trillanes received 36 SAROs totaling P73.31 million, all in the span of a day, while Liberal Party stalwart and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte received a single SARO worth P95.1 million.
It’s obvious from Abad’s list that lawmakers’ PDAF were denominated as a DPWH infrastructure projects – or as “livelihood/financial assistance programs” – in order to give it a semblance of legitimacy and to mask (or cover up) its true nature as a lump-sum, discretionary fund which legislators can practically spend as they please.
So the question in many people’s minds now is: How and where did these lucky lawmakers spend their pork barrel? Did these funds end up in “bogus” non-government organizations (NGOs), too?
Not surprisingly, Abad refuses to verify how the projects were implemented, leaving it instead to legislators to “validate” the information on his list.
Meanwhile, other PNoy allies are stonewalling further investigation into the lawmakers’ PDAF.
Blue Ribbon Committee Chair TG Guingona prematurely ended the hearings on the pork scam after coming up with a committee report recommending the filing of plunder charges against three of his Senate colleagues. This even if he had not yet investigated the 64 other NGO-conduits implicated in the Commission on Audit (COA) report, which allegedly got P4-billion – or twice the amount received by Napoles NGOs.
COA Chair Grace Pulido-Tan, on the other hand, refuses to release the audit reports on the PDAF from 2010 to the present, even though these had been available since May.
How’s that for transparency and accountability?!

Monday, September 29, 2014

‘Lord of Makati’

This article was originally published on March 28, 2001. I am not sure if Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay had explained it then but because he is now the Vice President of the country, many people are curious about his past. With his announcement of his plan to run for president in 2016, Binay should respond to this 13-year old question: Is the “Lord of Makati” story true?  The people need to know. — PERRY DIAZ

The Lord of Makati

By Miriam Grace A. Go
Wednesday, 28 March 2001
Lord-of-Makati.2Can Binay explain his wealth?
In less than a decade, Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, former chair of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and former mayor of Makati, accumulated at least P80 million worth of real estate properties in Makati and Batangas, which he kept undeclared, our investigation shows. The amount excludes P12 million in declared investments, as well as other businesses that he and his friends reportedly control through dummy corporations.
After serving as mayor for 12 years, Binay now owns a 66-hectare farm in Rosario, Batangas—estimated to be almost double the size of the Ayala commercial center in Makati—according to our investigation. Based on conservative estimates of the land value alone, the property—excluding improvements—is worth about P23 million.
In addition, Binay and his wife, Elenita, current Makati mayor, also own at least two Hidalgo condominium units, located inside the posh Rockwell Center in Makati. A 208-squae meter unit in Rockwell, like the ones occupied by each of the two Binay daughters, costs around P28 million.
The three properties alone, worth at least P79 million, were never declared in the couple’s statement of assets and liabilities.
This is in violation of RA 6713, which mandates all officials to file every year the acquisition cost and the assessed and fair market values of their real property. They are also required by law to list other personal property, investments, cash on hand or in banks, financial liabilities, and their business interests and connections.
Violation of the law carries certain penalties—a P5,000-fine and disqualification from public office. Unfortunately, officials take the law lightly as none of them have been put behind bars for their transgressions. Former President Joseph Estrada himself was previously caught committing the same mistake.
We interviewed at least 15 contractors, former employees and farm hands, sources privy to transactions, and local residents who saw Binay inspect the properties, and who all confirmed his ownership of these properties. Without these testimonies it would be difficult to trace ownership to him because documents, if they are available at all, do not link him or his family members to the properties.
Appointed MMDA chair in 1998 and replaced early this year after the Edsa 2 uprising, Jojo Binay want s to go back to City Hall. Perhaps the most popular politician among Makati City’s poor who constitute the majority of the city’s voters, he is the neutral target of political opponents.
Makati’s coffee shops are bursting with stories about Binay’s alleged unexplained wealth which he supposedly acquired during his consecutive three terms as mayor from 1988 to 1998 (he served as OIC mayor in 1986 until the 1988 local elections)
And he has a lot of explaining to do, considering that as mayor, Binay received a monthly P32,000 salary and as MMDA chairman, he received P46,000. Elenita received the same salary as mayor.
“These charges are a rehash of old election issues,” says Binay in a written response to questions, brushing aside the allegations of misdeed.
In a city where there is an accumulation of tremendous wealth, it is said that Binay himself had amassed riches by tolerating the collusion between the city’s building contractors and permits officials. It is common knowledge in Makati that permits that City Hall gives to builders of condominiums sometimes come with a hefty, under-the-table price.
The local opposition says they have the goods on the former mayor. In fact, it spent a hefty sum on recent paid ads in the Inquirer that alluded to Binay’s posh residences in and out of Makati City.
But the tough-talking, sometimes brusque Jojo Binay is unfazed. He says he does “not feel alluded” in the ads anyway.
Landed Family
Two hours away from Makati City, in the agricultural town of Rosario in Batangas, a sprawling, modern, 66-hectare farm is owned by the Binays of Makati. A conservative estimate of the land’s worth is put at P23 million, excluding the improvements made in recent years such as the construction of two huge houses, a piggery, orchidarium, a cock farm; and the paving of a hilly road that would connect the farm to other areas in the town.
The Binays acquired the first chunk of the land—16.6 hectares—in 1991. Former farm hands recalled having started working there in 1993, disclosing that they saw the former mayor there almost every week at the time.
But the couple never declared this in their Statement of Assets and Liabilities (SAL) of 1996, 1997 and 1999, which Newsbreak obtained. The Office of the Ombudsman did not have a copy of his 1998 SAL. The Binay couple is scheduled to file their new SAL next month, as mandated by law.
As of December 1999, the couple declared a net worth of only P20.06 million. In the same period, they declared P12.24 million in business investments-without identifying which these are. In fact, the Binays said their real properties are worth only P3,183,445 as of December 1999.
The only real estate property that the Binays declared as acquisitions since Jojo Binay became mayor in 1998 was a residential property in Alfonse, Cavite. Acquired in 1994, its fair market value as of 1999 was pegged at P59,580. The couple, however, declared in their 1999 SAL that they spent P3 million in improving the Cavite residence.
The other real assets declared by the couple in their most recent SAL were either inherited, purchased or mortgaged to them before they dabbled in public service. Two of these properties were inherited—one in 1951, in Cabagan, Isabela; and the other, with an unspecified date, in San Pascual, Batangas. Three were purchased—Alabang Hills, Muntinlupa (1964); Mariveles in Bataan (1965); and San Antonio Village in Makati (1977).
Of the eight declared properties, three are classified as agricultural while five are residential. The residential properties include the ones in Cavite; Makati; Muntinlupa; San Pedro (acquired in 1964) and Calamba (1984), Laguna. The Bataan, Isabela, and Batangas properties are agricultural.
Their 1999 SAL does not say when the San Pascual, Batangas property was inherited.
San Pascual is in the second district of Batangas, very near Batuan, where Binay’s father was born (Binay’s mother comes from Isabela, which should explain his Isabela property.
Rosario, BatangasAlong the main road of Barangay San Roque in the Rosario town proer, a huge blue-and-white sign sits in front of heaps of huge fruit baskets. It says: “Jobin B. Mango Station.”
A caretaker of the Jobin B. Mango Station, an old man, refused to answer queries about his benefactor. The most he could say was that “taga-Maynila ang kapitalista (the capitalist is from Metro Manila).” At harvest time in June, he said, they bring the mangoes to business establishments in Binondo. This is the first time workers will harvest from the capitalist’s mango farm, whose location the caretaker gestures to be far-flung—he acquired in only recently.
Three barangays away, nearly a hundred mango trees line the mountainous expanse of greens and dirt roads. “Kabibili lang niya ng manggahang iyan (He has just bought that mango farm),” said a farmer-resident of Barangay Maligaya. By “he” the farmer meant, “si Binay, iyong mayor ng Makati (Binay, the mayor of Makati).”
Barangay Maligaya is just one of three barangays that Binay’s farm traverses. The other two are Mayuro and Bayawang.
The Newsbreak team saw that within the same property is a sprawling farm known in the area as Binay’s property. The undeclared property is in the fourth district of Batangas. Although Binay traces his father’s roots to Bauan town, and inherited from his uncle a feed mill in the farther town of San Pascual, he acquired the Rosario land only in 1991. He bought the first 16.6 hectares from a certain Donato Almeda, a brother of the Makati assistant city treasurer who resigned his job two years before the sale.
Through Renato Comla, one of his security aides who hailed from Rosario, Binay learned about the parcels of land which were up for sale around his property, according to a relative of Comla himself.
Binay expanded the land over the years by buying out neighboring farms. Former employees in the farm and residents of the barangays also told Newsbreak that among those who sold their properties to Binay for about P35 per square meter were the Patulays, the Goyenas, the De Toresses, the Quezons, and the Aldays. Except for the Patulays, none of these families are natives of Batangas.
Comla’s relative recalled that it was Comla himself who recruited farmers, including some of his other relatives from the surrounding barangays, to work in Binay’s farm.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, Binay’s former farm hands complained that each time Binay bought the parcels of land, these would be put under their names and they would be made to sign documents to that effect. Binay got all the documents, however, they said, depriving them of the right to pursue their claims. The agrarian reform law bars a landowner from owning five hectares of agricultural land. Beyond that, he or she must distribute the land to his workers.
By 1993, Binay had already acquired 38 hectares of land in the area. It was also then that he started his own hog raising business with 60 pigs.
The following year, Binay decided to build honest-to-goodness structures in the farm, which required him to secure a building permit from the municipal government. At the time, the “owners” of his properties—farmworkers, actually—were no longer employed in his farm and therefore refused to sign any documents that facilitate the release of the permit.
“Pineke nila ang pirma namin. Tuwing kailangan, ‘yon ang ginawa nila,” said one of those formerly assigned to the piggery. “May kakutsaba sila sa munisipyo.” (Binay’s aides just forged our signatures. Every time these were needed, they would just forge them. Somebody in the municipal hall connives with them.)
A Manila-based source, one of those who sold his property to Binay, in fact, warned that the moment inquiries about the property are made in the assessor’s office in Rosario, Binay is immediately tipped off.
The vacation house inside the farm, which according to a farm insider, is “being patterned after the Palace in the Sky” project of former First Lady Imelda Marcos, rose simultaneously with spacious pens to house about 10,000 hogs, an expansive orchidarium, and hundreds of teepees for fighting cocks.
The property, based on farmers’ estimates, now spans 66 hectares and, at P35 per square meter when the first parcel was bought, should be worth at least P23.1 million.
Comla resigned as caretaker of the farm a few years ago due to his frequent conflicts with Elenita Binay’s aides. “There was a time when Doctora visited the farm more often than the mayor did because she had to check on her flowers. And her aides were commandeering people around, something which did not sit well with Ato,” a friend of Comla recalled.
Former farm workers recalled that in 1999, suspected communist guerrillas raided the farm because Binay reportedly maintained an armory there. They seized 10 different types of guns, according to farm employees at the time. Comla’s brother, his friend said, happened to be a member of the New People’s Army in the province.
The farm is now heavily guarded, a farmer in nearby barangay said, with security guards coming all the way from Makati and General Santos City. Farm workers from surrounding barangays have been replaced by aetas from Mt. Pinatubo in Zambales and Tarlac who stay in quarters inside the farm. “Batanguenos complain a lot,” a former farm worker said, recalling the reason they were dismissed from their jobs.
HE said they were made to work from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, and were made to choose between two salary arrangements—P150 a day without free food, or P3,000 a month with free food.
To further secure the farm, Binay’s chief chief security, Lito Glean, frequently visits the place and has been befriending local leaders in the area. The chairman of Barangay Maligaya, Danilo Recto, is now Glean’s kumpare after he stood as sponsor in the wedding of Recto’s daughter.
At present only one Batangueno, Pepito Carrido, remains employed in the farm.
Carrido, who started out as bookkeeper in the farm seven years ago, is, by all indications, now a trusted man of Binay, in charge of releasing the salary of farm workers. Even if Carrido was present when we visited his house one Sunday evening, his wife, who had orchids as fine as Mrs. Binay’s in her mini patio, said her husband was out, that she did not know the number of his cellular phone, and that they never talked about his work in the farm.
Carrido lives in a middle-class subdivision in Barangay San Roque. A stone’s throw away from the gate of his village is the Jobin B. Mango Station.
Without these testimonies from residents of Rosario and former workers of Binay, it would be difficult to trace the ownership of the land to the comebacking mayor.
This is the same difficulty that Newsbreak encountered when it investigated reports that Binay, through dummy corporations, also owned several business establishments in Makati. However, people privy to the transactions or who have seen the Binays in posh residences in the city have spoken with Newsbreak to confirm his ownership of these companies and residences.
The papers of incorporation were mostly unavailable at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and, in instances that documents could be accessed, they listed non-incriminating names. Land titles remain in the names of former owners or fronts, according to people privy to Binay’s style, but the documents are all with him for safekeeping.
The Makati Properties
Wearing a house dress which indicates her domestic familiarity with the place, Mayor Elenita Binay emerged from the elevator at the lobby of the Hidalgo condominium building at the plush Rockwell Center. The security guard acknowledged her with a respectful nod, which she returned with a casual inquiry, “May units pa bang for sale dito?”
A real estate broker, who had just shared the elevator ride with the doctora, was impressed that she seemed to be on a condo-buying spree. For that was the impression created by the Saturday afternoon visit some six months ago. The mayor at the time had just visited two of her daughters occupying two units on the 19th floor.
These days, the family reportedly already owns four units in the P100,000-per-square meter structure. However, Rockwell employees could confirm ownership of only two of these. Company officers declined to talk about the matter.
Only one of the daughters, the Ateneo law student, stays in the place now. The other was asked by her parents to go back to their old house on Caong Street in Barangay San Antonio.
The Binay couple still live in the same house and in the same tough neighbourhood where the father grew up. Orphaned at an early age, Binay was raised by his uncle who exposed him to simple living.
But said a former trusted aide of Binay, “He keeps cash by the millions in that house.” And that is not his only house.
Residents of Bel Air Village 2 attested that the “yellow house” at number 212 Orbit Street belongs to Binay. “It’s some kind of a safehouse, a place for meetings,” said a resident. “There are days when the place is quiet, and these are days when so many cars are parked outside the house.”
Over in the less affluent Barangay West Rembo, a huge house, known to residents as being occupied by Binay’s newlywed daughter, has also been built. Just last February 24, squatter families were alarmed at the sight of engineers surveying the area for a possible widening of the road that leads to what they will call the “mansiyon.” Paving the roads means a possible demolition of their shanties.
However, except for the fact that these houses are either occupied or frequented by members of the Binay family, there are no documents to show that they indeed own them.
How could he have done it?
Nongovernment organizations campaigning against Binay asked realtors to explain the most likely scheme that Binay, a former human right lawyer, must have used to hide his ownership of these houses.
The realtors explained it this way: He forms a company, which buys or builds the house for him. He then lists down unknown names from different addresses as incorporators of the company. After buying the property, registration papers do not bear his name. Instead, the original owner is asked to either issue a mortgage in Binay’s favor or sign a paper bestowing him with a power of attorney over the property. Only Binay has copies of the pertinent documents, such as deeds of sale and land titles.
A former aide of Binay who worked with him for three years under the Aquino government claimed that the former mayor used this scheme to acquire more than 10 houses and lots in Dasmarinas Village, all of them being rented out.
“There are these people from Bulacan whose names he’s been using [to acquire some properties],” the source, now retired from government, said. “In fact, he and Doctora are special guests of those people during fiestas.”
Homeowners, however, could not confirm whether Binay indeed has properties in the neighbourhood. SEC records of holding companies involved in recent purchases of properties in the village did not point to Binay or any of his close associates.
A contractor said the “usual SOP” is that in exchange for a building permit, contractors give a representative of the office of the mayor one condominium unit. This is aside from the requirement for most contractors, until 1998, to hire the services of excavation contractor NJ Bautista Enterprises, which, according to three contractors interviewed by Newsbreak, is owned by the couple Noel and Celine Bautista. Both are said to be close to the Binays.
Another contractor, who built at least two buildings recently, said his company had to give an undisclosed amount of money to an unidentified City Hall official before it got “accredited” to do work in Makati during Binay’s last term.
He said the condominium payoffs, although made several years ago, remains “a very sensitive issue” which he could not discuss in detail.
Despite persistent talk, however, nobody has come out to openly accuse Binay of pocketing commissions from these deals. The comebacking mayor has repeatedly denied this, claiming that his first mission was precisely to clean up the permits unit at City Hall.
Pointing out that “everybody’s hassling everybody” in City Hall anyway, a third contractor contacted by Newsbreak said, without elaborating, that his company has opted to just comply with Binay’s extra-legal requirements so it could continue building in Makati. By doing so, he said, “we have not encountered problems so far.”
Business Ventures
Just beside the barangay hall of Comembo, residents of Makati’s poorer communities have their own Glorietta to troop to.
Called Apex, the five-story commercial complex on the corner of J.P. Rizal Extension and Sampaguita Street sits where a city government-owned sports complex used to stand. It houses on its first floor a Chowking restaurant, a Mercury drugstore, and a few RTW stalls. A bookstore occupies part of the second floor, while two cinemas share the third floor with a computer school, which also occupies the rest of the building.
What makes the mini-mall popular among residents is that they know it belongs to former Mayor Binay. The name of the company, JOBIM, is a dead giveaway. City Hall insiders said it stands for Jojo Binay, Irasga (the last name of Nelson, his former chief city engineer and trusted aide with whom he had a falling out in 1998), and Mercado (the last name of former councilor Ernesto, who is widely recognized in Makati as Binay’s alleged bagman).
The Chowking branch on the first floor of Apex which opened in 1996 is registered under the name BIMECH Food Chains Corporation, which, reliable sources said, again stands for Binay, Irasga, Mercado, and , possibly, one Lilia Chavez, whom SEC papers showed is a resident of Barangay Guadalupe in Makati. Chavez owns the most number of shares in the corporation, which, in 1998, reported a total net income of only P181,644, which dropped to P59,390 in 1999.
However, as in the case of his alleged houses, documents on the ownership of these and other business establishments do not bear the name of Binay or any of his close political allies. In some cases, there are no papers of incorporation at the SEC at all. And as in the case of the houses, only employees and people privy to Binay’s business deals will attest to his ownership of the companies.
For instance, two McDonald’s outlets along J.P. Rizal—one at the corner of Reposo Street, very near the City Hall, and another at the corner of Pasong Tamo, near the Sta. Ana Race Track—are widely known in Makati as Binay’s. A check on the papers, however, revealed that the franchise of the said outlets remains with McGeorge Foods Corporation, the mother company of McDonalds in the Philippines.
A source knowledgeable about the deal said Binay earns from McDonald’s because he owns the lots on which the said outlets stand and also leases them to McGeorge. The Makati assessor’s office refused to reveal the identities of the owner of the said properties.
The Dreyers ice cream booth in Glorietta at the Ayala Center, the franchise for which is pegged at P1 million, is also widely known to be Binay’s The company’s name, BIMET Manufacturing Corporation, is quite similar to the JOBIM acronym of a mall that Binay reportedly co-owns with Mercado. The SEC, however, has no records on the company.
No registration papers could be dug up either at the SEC for two more widely known businesses of Binay: the two-story Areflor Funeral Homes on J.P. Rizal Extension, and the Christine’s water purifying plant in Barangay Pembo, to provide space and an access road for which a Montessori school and a number of shanties were torn down.
The Binay couple reported in their SALs from 1996 up to 1999 that they had investments in business which grew at an average of P2 million annually. No details on the nature of these investments were given.
Election issue
Corruption is an issue that has been raised against Binay in every election since 1988, including the one held three years ago, when he fielded his wife while he was waiting for his term to pass.
Each time the charges—bloated payrolls, overpriced equipment and supplies, grease money demanded from businessmen, and hefty commissions from projects and purchases—would prove immaterial to voters, as Binay would always win hands down.
To the poor, who compose almost half of Makati’s 505,203 population, Binay is the champion who has delivered to them the goods and services by pounding on the rich to pay their taxes.
The local opposition recognizes that it would be a “difficult climb” trying to downplay what Binay has given the poor, patronage politics being a concept that voters do not seem to regard as negative.
Free education in a university that would shame private institutions in terms of structures and equipment, access to free medical care in the expensive Makati Medical Center, burial assistance for families who have lost loved ones, basketball courts and paved roads—as long as they benefit from these, residents of depressed barangays are unlikely to question whether these are their rights and not acts of goodwill from Binay.
“We cannot deny the fact that Binay has been delivering to Makati’s poor more than what they ever had before,” said Councilor Mark Joseph, one of the only two oppositionists in the local legislative body. “What our constituents should be made aware of is what he is not delivering. Where people need medicine, they are given roads. Where people training for livelihood, they are given cement.”

Abad slammed anew over DAP allocation

MANILA, Philippines - Like an evil genius.
This was how former senator Joker Arroyo described Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad with the way he supposedly used some legislators in his allocation of funds tied to the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, for his part, branded Abad as a “congenital liar.”
Tiangco said Abad is doing everything to cover up the DAP by “spreading erroneous data” on funds released to legislators from the stimulus fund.
Arroyo has repeatedly denied getting any of the DAP funds when he was still senator and said he knew nothing about the program.
However, his name continued to be included in the list of legislators who were supposedly allocated DAP funds, which were used to finance some pet projects. 
Arroyo pointed out the P47 million that was tied to his name in the list of DAP allocations was not his doing even though it was being made to appear that the funds went to some projects that were part of his advocacies.
It was clear to Arroyo how the funds came to be associated with his name and he was certain that Abad was responsible for this.
According to Arroyo, the P47 million went to the construction of three school buildings and to a number of hospitals where the funds were parked for medical assistance.
Arroyo knew this because he proposed these amendments to the 2013 General Appropriations Act, which were not approved by his colleagues.
Abad himself clarified to Arroyo in a Sept. 30, 2013 letter that the P47 million “was not sourced from amendments to the 2013 GAA, but was instead charged against the Disbursement Acceleration Program.”
“Thus, I have never ever asked nor received from Secretary Abad or DBM (Department of Budget and Management) P47 million from DAP,” Arroyo said.
In that same letter, Arroyo said Abad justified his initiative to allocate P47 million of DAP funds to him because “they were in line with the Aquino administration’s development agenda, particularly with respect to providing quality education and health care services to disadvantaged Filipinos.”
“Abad was being disingenuous. Congress disapproved my proposal for P47 million funding. The budget secretary in effect overruled the judgment of Congress and appropriated P47 million to me from DAP,” Arroyo said.
“The budget secretary, by his lonesome self and at his level, does not have the authority to allocate at his discretion funds for certain projects and assign its disbursements to legislators, local government units and other agencies. This is the core issue of DAP,” he added.
The controversy over the DAP first emerged during a privilege speech delivered by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who claimed additional funds were given by Malacañang to senators who voted to convict former chief justice Renato Corona.
At the time, none of the legislators knew about the existence of DAP and that additional funds given to them were related to this program.
The grant of additional funds to the senators was seen as a reward for their vote to convict Corona.
“Was Mr. Abad’s initiative borne out of altruism? No, it’s evil geniusness. I voted to acquit CJ Corona in the impeachment trial. To show that the administration is impartial, Mr. Abad bestowed upon me, for appearances, P47 million of DAP funds to squander even if it did not even pass thru me,” Arroyo said.
“We are talking of an estimated P150 billion of DAP. Nobody knows the exact figure because DBM has not been forthcoming,” he added.
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who also voted to acquit Corona, was also placed in the list of legislators who received DAP funds.
Santiago said that if ever DAP funds went to her office, she never asked for any.
“Abad is a real liar – a congenital one. At first he didn’t want to give the list, only then after he was forced to give a list when I questioned the quorum last Monday, around 2:45 p.m. of September 15, 2014,” Tiangco added.
“He said it’s the same copy as DBM’s, but during the interpellation the pages of his copy and the number of pages of mine were not the same. The copy given to me had 128 pages only. His copy had more than 128 pages. So definitely my copy was sanitized,” he added.
Aside from this, Tiangco said his copy had a lot of blanks in the column for proponents.
“So, what was the intent of having conflicting copies with incomplete data? Wasn’t he already making a big lie?” he asked.
Tiangco said Abad promised on record in the plenary that he would submit to Congress the complete records on September 17.
“At 8 p.m. Sept. 17, no record was submitted to Congress. Instead, the DBM posted a report on September 17 late in the evening. And when it was checked on Sept. 19, it was already a different report. Both reports had a lot of blanks in the column of the proponent, that is why the total was only P8.8 billion, short by P2.2 billion of the P11 billion. Even the reporters noticed the big discrepancies in the lists,” he added. – Wtih Jose Rodel Clapano