Trlllanes’ conspiracy theories
(The Philippine Star) - February 20, 2014 - 12:00am

Sometime last year, we sat down for coffee with Sen. Sonny Trillanes at the Manila Golf Club where he spoke about “conspiracy theories” regarding the country’s situation with China. According to a source, a PowerPoint presentation is allegedly being shown by Trillanes to demonstrate the connection between Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and businessman Manny Pangilinan, with allegations that the two are working together to protect the businessman’s interest in Recto Bank (also known as Reed Bank).

It can be recalled that in late 2012, Trillanes had a heated exchange with then-Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile regarding the territorial dispute between China and the Philippines over Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal, wherein Trillanes’ “back channeling” was disclosed. At the time, a Pangilinan-led group (Philex Petroleum) won a contract to explore Recto Bank for gas and oil. Pangilinan also met with officials of the China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) for a possible commercial deal.

Trillanes had alleged that Del Rosario was favoring Pangilinan because the Cabinet official was a former board member of some companies under the MVP Group, and that the businessman and Del Rosario supposedly contrived a “war-like” situation in Panatag/Scarborough Shoal to divert attention from Recto Bank. Both MVP and Secretary Del Rosario dismissed the “conspiracy theories” as pure hogwash, explaining that Malacañang knew about the meeting with CNOOC and that the deal was being mulled as a solution to the territorial dispute.

MVP also told us the interest was purely commercial, and that the Chinese group had not invested anything into the project and there had been no further communication. Philex Petroleum’s exploratory surveys and drillings had also stalled due to the presence of Chinese destroyer ships within the disputed area. 

Sonny has another conspiracy theory, this time involving socialite Ruby Chan Tuason whom he suspects of being a “Trojan Horse” out to weaken the plunder charges against his nemesis, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile. Trillanes is convinced that Tuason is deliberately fudging certain details in her testimony to water down the case against Enrile, and that Sen. Jinggoy Estrada is being made a sacrificial lamb. Trillanes also cast doubts on Tuason’s lawyer Dennis Manalo who, like Enrile, was a partner of the Siguion-Reyna law firm founded by Enrile’s brother-in-law.

It would seem that Sonny Trillanes can see conspiracy theories where others can’t. No one can forget Sonny’s involvement in a conspiracy to overthrow the Arroyo government in 2003 when he took part in the Oakwood mutiny for which he was detained for seven years – eventually becoming a senator.  Both Gringo Honasan and Sonny Trillanes have one thing in common: They “conspired” and became elected senators in the end. Not bad for a conspiracy story.

Polo Club president’s statements refuted

Concerned members of the Manila Polo Club (MPC) sent Spy Bits an open letter – which they also circulated to other members – disputing the Feb. 3 letter of MPC president Violeta Gallego to members wherein she blamed certain key managers for putting the club in dire financial straits. In her letter, Gallego claimed that the Polo Club has “achieved a significant financial turnaround resulting in a positive operating excess…” and that the club can now start paying down its loans.

Gallego credited the current management for this “positive” accomplishment, saying this would not have been possible without the “close financial scrutiny and political will of former (MPC) president Azanza’s Board… that recognized the weak financial oversight of several key managers…” and “pushed through key management changes” including the hiring of the current GM.

The open letter by concerned members, however, challenge Gallego’s claims, saying that major financial decisions by the club are not handled by the management but by the Board, upon recommendation of the finance committee. Saying it is outrageous to pass on the blame to management, the letter pointed to the existence of an audit committee which oversees the finances of the club as well as all the contracts and projects entered into – and that the previous head of the audit committee was Gallego herself before she became president.

Luigi Bernas, the husband of ex-presidential daughter Luli Arroyo, is the director for finance.

The open letter said the financial problems of the club occurred during the two-term presidency of Roman Azanza who is now being credited by Gallego for his “financial scrutiny and political will.” If Azanza indeed has a hands-on style of presidency, how come he allowed the club to be subjected to a weak financial oversight as Gallego was claiming, the letter writers scathingly pointed out. For instance, the security committee recommended additional security and manpower and Azanza ordered its implementation – doubling the costs to the club. 

It’s very clear that the main cause of the club’s financial problems are capital expenditure, the open letter insisted, pointing to the physical renovations approved by the Board which were beyond what the club could afford – putting the MPC under the burden of heavy debt. If the Manila Polo Club is really “experiencing ‘positive operating excess,’ why are the club members being burdened with an increase in their monthly dues?” fumed the letter.

To be fair, we asked a current MPC Board member if the Board wanted to comment on the contents of the open letter but since we did not receive any reaction, we assume the Board is standing by Gallego’s statements. Another member worried about the club’s finances also informed us that the Polo Club is reportedly being assessed by the BIR for tax deficiencies amounting to P260 million, with the management reportedly offering a compromise option of P219 million to the BIR. The same member also claimed the Polo Club has a current outstanding bank loan of P50 million or even more which was used for the club’s recent renovations.

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Email: spybits08@yahoo.com

 

CLUB DEL ROSARIO ENRILE FINANCIAL GALLEGO LETTER PANGILINAN POLO CLUB RECTO BANK TRILLANES
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