‘Alphaland-Boy Scouts deal aboveboard’
Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - February 19, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Former trade minister Roberto Ongpin declared at the Senate yesterday that no irregularity was involved in the sale of a share of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) in a one-hectare lot at the corner of Ayala Avenue Extension and Malugay Street in Makati.

In a statement he read before the Blue Ribbon subcommittee, Ongpin said nothing irregular or underhanded characterized the deal between the BSP and developer Alphaland Corp., of which he is chairman.

“Everything was aboveboard as affirmed by the Boy Scouts themselves, and both Alphaland and the Boy Scouts will make a lot of money in this deal,” he said.

Ongpin disputed allegations of former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado that Vice President Jejomar Binay, BSP national president, had received at least P200 million in kickbacks from the joint property development.

“Alphaland Corporation, as well as myself and attorney (Mario) Oreta, in our respective personal capacities, take the strongest exception to the allegations of Mr. Mercado that the Boy Scouts got a raw deal in this project,” he said. “As can be seen, this is one of the best investments that the Boy Scouts have ever made.”

Alphaland president Mario Oreta said Mercado was mistaken in his allegation that the BSP should have been paid P600 million for the sale of its share in the property and retain a 15-percent share in the development of Alphaland Makati Place project.

The BSP could not have both and so chose to have a 15-percent share in the project, he added.

The 15 percent equated to 150 parking slots, one floor of the podium with a total area of 6,161 square meters, and 9,208 square meters of the sellable areas of the residential towers, he added.

Oreta said Mercado was wrong to claim that any appreciation in the value of the property beginning June 2008 when the joint venture agreement was signed should have accrued in favor of the BSP.

“Having agreed to a joint venture, any appreciation to the value of the property should benefit both joint venture partners, not only the Boy Scouts but also Alphaland,” he said.

Ongpin presented figures showing that the 150 parking slots that BSP owns in the project are currently valued at P150 million.

The podium’s third floor that BSP had chosen is now valued at a total P1.232 billion based on a cost of P200,000 per square meter, he added.

Ongpin said the residential towers that are BSP’s share would amount to more than P1.83 billion.

“So all in all, if the Boy Scouts would sell their entire stake in the Makati Place project, the total value accruing to the Boy Scouts is more than P3 billion or five times its original P600 million investment,” he said.

At the start of the hearing, Mercado showed that the P200 million in kickback that Binay had allegedly received was from the 5.88 percent or 2,301 shares that Alphaland had given Oreta through his Noble Care Management Corp. in August 2008.

Noble Care took out a loan of P100.4 million from Alphaland that was eventually written off, he added.

Mercado said the BSP has not received a single centavo from the joint venture agreement with Alphaland.

In 2010, Alphaland bought back the shares of Noble Care with 8.897 million common shares of Alphaland worth P89 million, he added.

Ongpin said the 5.88 percent shares that Mercado mentioned represented the “carried interest” given to Oreta for bringing in the property to Alphaland for development.

“Alphaland compensated Mr. Oreta with shares of Silvertown. Subsequently I agreed to exchange those shares with shares of the listed company Alphaland Corporation,” he said.

Ongpin was referring to Silvertown Development Corp., the local arm of Sime Darby Inc. that Alphaland eventually acquired.

Oreta said Alphaland is the mother company with several projects already under its wing.

The 8.9 million shares of Alphaland Corp. are still with Noble Care, he added.

Senior vice president Wendel Avisado said the BSP’s transactions with Alphaland were all forthright and aboveboard.

The BSP’s objective has always been to make money to support its operations, he added.

Reading a statement of the BSP national executive board, Avisado said the allegations are part of Mercado’s political vendetta against Binay.

“Individually and collectively, we cannot see any other reason why he is repudiating the agreement now by his unfounded accusations except his personal political vendetta against Vice President Binay,” he said.

“To destroy the name, honor and reputation of Vice President Binay, he does not mind unnecessarily dragging the BSP into the controversy to the extent of destroying it with his malicious assertions. By his reckless accusations, he is sowing suspicion, confusion and mistrust in the BSP as a noble youth-serving institution.”

Avisado said the BSP received a check for P7.6 million last January, representing a year’s worth of rent for the third floor of the Alphaland Makati Place podium at P634,160 a month.– With Helen Flores

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