MANILA, Philippines - Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. has denied that he owns and plans to live in a P40-million mansion in a posh subdivision.
In a statement on Friday, Ochoa stressed, "I do not own the said house. It is owned by my brother-in-law, Jerry L. Acuzar and his wife, Tess Ochoa-Acuzar. I don't intend to live in it."
Ochoa explained that "the White Plains property was bought by the Acuzars last March 20, 2009, through their company, called Hedgerow Retain Holdings."
"The Acuzars used the law office, MOST, in 2008, since I was then a partner on leave of the said law office. It is just natural that the Acuzars used the law office where they are long time clients," Ochoa wrote.
MOST refers to the Marcos Ochoa Serapio Tan Law Firm, which was put up by Ochoa, Tan, and 2 other partners in 2006.
Two of the junior lawyers of the firm were listed as the president and corporate secretary of Hedgerow. One of the senior partners has the controlling shareholder of Hedgerow. His sister, Ochoa-Acuzar, has half of the common shares of Hedgerow, which was incorporated in December 2008.
Ochoa said "Hedgerow's primary purpose is to acquire land and other real property for land banking or for "build and sell" purposes."
Acuzar is behind New San Jose Builders Inc., a real estate company that builds residential and commercial properties, and roads.
It was his sister, Ochoa-Acuzar, who began constructing a house on the property, the executive secretary explained. "Sometimes when she (Ochoa-Acuzar) was out of the country, she would ask my wife, Pinky, to monitor the construction."
ABS-CBN News reported on Wednesday that a "glass mansion" in a corner lot in White Plains, a gated subdivision in Quezon City, is linked to Ochoa. The registered owner, Hedgerow Retain Holdings, shares the same address and contact number with the law firm founded by Ochoa and others.
His wife, Pinky Ochoa, was listed as the contact person in the directory of the homeowners' association.
On Thursday, Malacañang responded to the ABS-CBN News' report. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said, "He just told me that it's not his house. It's not registered in his name. So why should it be included in his statement of assets and liabilities if it's not in his name?... He has nothing to do with that property."
Ochoa said Friday that "some quarters have made an issue out of it (glass mansion issue), relying on hearsay, innuendoes and baseless conclusions."
He said these "unvarnished facts about the 'house' issue" is his last statement about the matter.