Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dealing with oneself

By getting the DPWH to agree to a project proposal funded generously from the national budget to the tune of 710 million pesos in its first year, the then Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Manuel Villar, moved the location of the original C-5 Road from SLEX through Sucat to Coastal Road to another area within the same vicinity. In the process, as we discussed in our Tuesday column, government virtually threw away some 1.2 billion pesos in road right-of-way payments made to Amvel Properties of Bro. Mike Velarde.

Of the 710 million pesos, provision for road right-of-way payments amounted to 355 million pesos, for the year 2005 alone. The rest was for road construction. But a strange provision in the approved and funded project proposal stated that “The City of Las Pinas together with the staff of the office of proponent(s) have negotiated (sic) the lot owners affected by the RROW”.

In effect, the Villars and Mayor Aguilar of Las Pinas, through their respective staff, took it upon themselves to negotiate with the owners of the 39 parcels of land where the newly re-located C-5 Road would pass. It just so happens that of these 39 lot parcels, 12 belong to three corporations owned and controlled by the Villar family, namely Adelfa Properties, Inc., Brittany Corporation, and Golden Haven Memorial Park. And the Republic of the Philippines allowed the Villars to assume duties that appropriately should belong to its instrumentalities, in this case, the DPWH or some other agency under its supervision, such as the Toll Regulatory Board.

In fine, the Villars were allowed to deal with themselves, for and in behalf of the Republic. How convenient.

So convenient in fact, that the Villar corporations sold to the Republic parcels of land in Barangay San Dionisio, Paranaque City, at a price of 15,000 pesos per square meter, while an adjoining property consisting of 3,100 square meters owned by the heirs of the late Governor Democrito Plaza of Agusan del Sur, went for a negotiated price of only 4,000 pesos per square meter, almost a fourth of what the Villars got.

Rep. Rodolfo “Ompong” Plaza, son of the late governor D.O. and one of the signatories for the family in the deed of sale with the Republic, said in an interview over DZMM last Tuesday morning that at the time of the sale, they were satisfied that they got a fair price for their property based on its market value at time of sale, and the BIR’s zonal valuation. But, and this is a big BUT, they were unaware that the adjoining property owned by the Villars was paid almost four times more. How lucky one can get when he is allowed to deal with himself.

But since the Villar staff, as per the project proposal, were the ones who “negotiated (sic) the lot owners affected by the RROW”, what does that make of them in the light of the enormous discrepancy between the price that Plaza got and the price that Brittany and Adelfa or Golden Haven got for adjoining parcels of land?

Manggagantso? Or, as the other Plaza siblings, I can just imagine, knowing most of them personally, would now chide my friend Ompong, “Binuang!”

What was it author Manapat used to say about the “wa-is” in the unlamented time of Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda? “Some are smarter than others”. He, he, he.

Yet that is not all there is to this sneakily-executed real estate capers.

Adelfa Properties Inc., another Villar flagship, represented by its EVP, a certain Jerry M. Navarrete, and its SVP and GM, Anastacio C. Adriano Jr., swapped properties with Masaito Development Corporation, represented by its President, Joseph C. Wang, by way of a memorandum of agreement where about similarly-sized parcels of land were transferred from one’s ownership to the other.

Three parcels of land, in the case of Masaito, with three different TCT’s, were swapped with one TCT belonging to Adelfa which would both be traversed by the re-routed C-5. Adelfa’s property was one bigger block of land compared to Masaito’s three smaller parcels. Fair enough for a swap?

At first glance, yes, considering that Adelfa swapped 27,355 square meters for Masaito’s total of 26,927 square meters. But three parcels with wide frontages facing the new C-5 are certainly going to be more valuable than one big hammer-shaped parcel with only one frontage facing the newly-built avenue.

Strangely, Masaito agreed. If the corporation had not, would the road have been re-located a few more degrees off-tangent? Just wondering.

Now here’s the sneaky catch. The “negotiators” for the project proponents of the new, re-routed C-5, were able to have the Masaito parcels re-classified from “residential” to “commercial”. Remember, they represent not just a mere senator of the realm, but a former Speaker of the House, now the powerful chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, plus the congresswoman of the lone district of Las Pinas City, plus the city government of Las Pinas itself, headed by the mayor who is brother to the congresswoman. How conveniently these political dynasties serve their own interests! Dealing with and among themselves, using the meager funds of the people of the benighted islands.

And because it has become commercial, even before the road actually traversed the Masaito properties, the same “negotiators” were able to get the people of the miserable Republic to pay 30,000 pesos for each square meter!

Wow, Ompong! Eat your heart out---four thousand versus thirty, in the same vicinity! The 12 million pesos you were paid could have been 90 million. Your price was “pour la patrie”; theirs was “pour les Villar-naires”.

Now did Wang and his Masaito get any windfall from the conversion?

Item Number Three in the Memorandum of Agreement specified that “The First Party (Adelfa) on behalf of the Second Party (Masaito) shall receive the consideration for the expropriation of the said properties (and) for said purpose, the Second Party shall execute a letter-authority in favour of the First Party”.

Which apparently they did, for two days before Christmas of 2006, Anastacio Adriano Jr. collected partial payment of 25 million pesos for one parcel of land from DPWH. And forthwith deposited the same in his account.

Like Plaza, Masaito is powerless to question the unfairness of it all, as he had signed a MOA that obviously benefitted the Villars far more than he could ever have.

Sipag at tiyaga? Kuno.

C-5 at Taga is what it clearly is.

A road was hijacked from its planned site, causing the Republic to lose 1.2 billion pesos in road right-of-way payments to someone who does not mind the diversion because after all, he was paid for his land.

The road was transferred to another location, deliberately to traverse properties belonging to one powerful and influential family, and paid awesome prices for road right-of-way that would not have been so valuable if there was no government-built road in the first place.

Ginisa ang taong-bayan sa sariling mantika, gamit-gamit ang salaping mula sa kaban ng naghihikahos na bansa.

Because of the relocation of the road, the values of the real estate now traversed will multiply several times more in value, and guess who benefits awesomely? Portofino, Brittany, La Marea, Crowne-Asia, and whatever housing brand the Villars could name their now choice real estate.

“The rich are different from you and me”, F. Scott Fitzgerald once remarked. Indeed. Especially if they are the kind who would want to rule the benighted.

Wizened and jaded political observers sneer at the Lacson and Madrigal discoveries of larceny most grand as “politically motivated”. This is of course the banshee of Villar lapdogs like Alan Peter and the Joker.

Granting so for the sake of argument, it is one political play that has shown the people of the benighted islands how they are gypped day-in and day-out, by these “leaders” they elect on the basis of catchy slogans and well-manicured propaganda.

That 200 million double insertion was perhaps a God-given clue intended to tell the people of these benighted parts, after the mysteries of the “road through elsewhere” unravelled, how they are royally screwed by the powerful proponents of the Daang-Hari and Daang-Reyna’s, the Norzagaray’s and San Jose del Monte’s, the Holiday Hills of San Pedro, the Molino’s in Cavite, and of course, the C-5’s of these miserable parts.


npc said...

Ang lupa ni villar sa manuyo ay dating malalim na irasan na tinambakan ng mga basura ng las pinas. Lupang pinababa ang halaga dahil sa tambakan, biglang tumaas ang halaga dahil sa kalsadang salawahan. Kaming mga taga Gatchalian Village ay saksi sa mga ito dahil sa aming subdivision dumaan ang mga trak ng basura. Wais talaga.

Ang Anastacio Adriano na binabanggit na tumanggap ng bayad ay ang aming kababayan at isang opisyal sa opisina ni villar sa senado.