‘No proof of Tiu’s ownership’
Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - October 31, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Businessman Antonio Tiu again failed to convince the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee, in his second appearance yesterday, that he is the owner of an agricultural estate allegedly owned by Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Tiu presented a one-page document purportedly showing his acquisition of the 150-hectare property in Rosario, Batangas from a certain Laureano Gregorio Jr.

The document, dated Jan. 18, 2013 and not notarized, stated “the total consideration for the property and all the rights, title and/or interests therein of Mr. Gregorio shall be P400 million.”

It was stated in the document that Gregorio would register all of the improvements in the property to Tiu’s now defunct company, Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corp. and that within two years from the date of the agreement, Gregorio would turn over all the documents proving the real and enforceable rights of Sunchamp over the property, including the titles.

As in the previous hearings, Tiu stated that he does not have in his possession any of the titles to the property yet and that he has paid a total of P11 million in “downpayment” of the total P446-million contract price.

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said the document presented by Tiu was meaningless and could easily be fabricated by any individual.

“Remember he’s coming out of nowhere saying he owns it. But all he can show is a one-page MOA (memorandum of agreement) that is hardly seen as normal practice because it is usually a deed of sale,” Cayetano said.

He said that Tiu also failed to produce any other document to support his claims of ownership, such as proof of his P11-million downpayment, which he supposedly made in two tranches of P5 million in 2013 and P6 million this year.

Cayetano said that he reviewed the financial statements of Greenergy Holdings Corp., which is also owned by Tiu, and saw no record of the transaction.

Tiu explained that the P11 million was not reflected in the financial statements of Greenergy because it was paid in personal checks and as such, the payment was treated as advances from a shareholder.

Martin Subido, corporate information and compliance officer of Greenergy and a lawyer of Binay, argued that

the absence of notarization would not affect the validity of the agreement.

Subido said the agreement was binding and valid and that Sunchamp holds “complete adverse and peaceful possession of the property.”

Subido noted that the agreement states that if there are any liabilities related to the property, these would be treated as Gregorio’s responsibility and any liability would be deducted from the amount still due him.

He added the deal provides for retention of around P135 million, an amount that may be tapped in the event of any liability that may arise such as non-payment of taxes.

Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares, who was invited to yesterday’s hearing, admitted she was confused about what exactly is the status of Tiu’s claim to the property.

She said it was puzzling for Tiu to assert that the transaction was already complete to justify a provision for retention.

Speaking as a lawyer, Henares said that if she were the buyer of the property, she would not have been comfortable with the absence of a representation of warranties or proof that the seller actually owned the property.

CARP issue

Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes, who was also present during the hearing, said that his office is conducting its own investigation into the Batangas estate to determine if Tiu has violated any agrarian reform laws.

Delos Reyes said that he informed Tiu to look into the matter when he attended the inauguration of the Sunchamp Agri-Tourism Park, the official name of the Batangas property, together with Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis Pangilinan last August.

“We are going to evaluate that and take the appropriate action. How did you get this land? It was so big. I said you better fix the papers because in time my monitoring team will take a look at this,” Delos Reyes said, recalling his conversation with Tiu.

He said that whatever comes up during the Blue Ribbon sub-committee hearings would also be used by the DAR in its investigation.

Makati City vice mayor Ernesto Mercado said the property actually covers 350 hectares.

Apart from the sudden emergence of Tiu as the owner of the property, Cayetano said there were several other pieces of evidence indicating the Binays were its actual owners, such as Renato Comia, who is his driver/bodyguard; Fernando Baloloy, the husband of Binay’s secretary Ebeng Baloloy; Romeo and Rodelio Duenas, siblings of Baloloy; Ferdie Eusebio, an ally of Binay and councilor of Makati City; and Edgardo Lacson, the treasurer of a foundation tied to Binay.

Cayetano also presented Instagram photos, which he described as some of the most compelling evidence supporting allegations that the Binays were the true owners of the property.

He said the photos were from the Instagram account of the Vice President’s youngest daughter Joanna Marie.

The Instagram account carried the handle “JMBLICIOUS,” which had the daughter of Binay in the profile picture and the name “jm binay” as the owner.

The photos in the Instagram account include a stone fountain that was also cited by Trillanes during his ocular inspection of the property last week.

A photo of Joanna on a Segway was also posted and in the background, a house-like structure could be seen, a photo which was also taken by Trillanes during the ocular inspection.

Another photo showed another part of the property, which Cayetano noted was the same as the one taken during the ocular inspection.

One photo showed some people in a swimming pool captioned “@lovelybadilla our place in batangas.. :)”

Cayetano also showed another post with the description: “Family Dinner at Batangas…”

The last Instagram post shown by Cayetano was that of the Vice President singing at an area of the property, which was also seen in the photographs taken during the ocular inspection.

Cayetano noted that the GPS tag in the Instagram photos showed that they were taken in Rosario, Batangas on Dec. 25, 2012.

“If you weigh the evidence right now, take a look at the use, the beneficial owner, its history, etc., everything shows that it does not belong to Tiu,” Cayetano said.

“But to be totally fair, if he can come up with any proof later on that he purchased that in good faith, it still doesn’t prove that Laureano Gregorio is not the dummy of the Vice President,” he added.

Trillanes, for his part, said that he is convinced that Tiu has been lying to the committee from the start.

“You are lying with a straight face. Your time is up. Mr. Tiu is part of the cover up,” Trillanes said.

Trillanes said that he intends to file perjury charges against Tiu.

No proof

Binay’s camp, meanwhile, said an audio recording of his interview as well as the Instagram photos of his youngest daughter are not proof that he owned the 350-hectare property in Rosario, Batangas.

Journalist-blogger Raissa Robles aired before the committee yesterday her interview with Binay on June 29, 2010, wherein the Vice President supposedly admitted owning a farm in Batangas.

Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, Binay’s spokesman for political concerns, said the issue on the ownership of the Batangas farm estate had already been clarified by their lawyers.

“The Vice President was referring to the purchase made by Agrifortuna when he and Dr. (Elenita) Binay were the majority stockholders. The Vice President divested from Agrifortuna in 1994. He then formed JCB farms as a single proprietorship, which leased the property from Mr. Gregorio,” Remulla said.

“I think we need to be reminded that before jumping to hasty conclusions, even journalists need a clear grasp of all the facts,” he added.

Remulla also said having pictures taken in the Rosario property does not mean that the Binays are the owner of it.

“Nag- videoke lang, may-ari ka na (Just having a videoke and you are already the owner?) The Vice President and his family have been open about using the facilities and visiting Rosario. For one, Dr. Binay has a flower farm there. But these photos, like previous photos shown by Sen. Cayetano, are not proof of ownership,” Remulla explained.

In a related development, the architect named by Mercado as the one who designed the Binays’ rest house in Rosario has vehemently denied Mercado’s claim.

Rodolfo Bongato said his signature on the supposed design proposal was forged. With Helen Flores



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