Leviste's twin owns land where drugs found

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 14 2014 10:34 PM | Updated as of Jan 15 2014 06:34 AM

MANILA - Conrad Leviste, the twin brother of former Batangas Governor Antonio Leviste, and his son Batangas Vice-Governor Jose Antonio "Marc" Leviste II, went to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday to deny knowledge of the operation of an alleged illegal drug syndicate in one of their properties in Lipa City.

The Levistes, along with LBJ Development Corp. secretary Benedicto Orense, personally subscribed to their affidavits before Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera.

LBJ Development Corp., wherein Conrad Leviste's family is an incorporator, manages the 10,000 square meter property at the LPL Ranch Estate where a drug bust was conducted by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (AIDSOTF) on Christmas Day.

The raid yielded 84 kilos of shabu and led to the arrest of several individuals who are now subject of the DOJ's preliminary investigation for violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

In their affidavits, the Levistes admitted that the subject property is owned by one of their family's corporations, Running Spring Real Estate, Inc., which was incorporated in 1994.

Their affidavits state that Running Spring entered into a management agreement with LBJ Development Corp. on Nov. 15, 2007 for the management of the property subject of the drug raid.

'Not aware of drug syndicate'

Speaking to ABS-CBN News, Marc Leviste said his family was not aware of the alleged illegal drug trade on their property and is willing to cooperate in any probe.

"I voluntarily [came] to the DOJ to diligently comply with their invitation and the requirements that we have to submit in as far as the issue or the case is concerned," he said.

"Hindi po tayo akusado, hindi po tayo kriminal, hindi po tayo suspek sa issue ng drug raid probe," he added. "I am not aware of the [illegal drugs] operation."

Hindi ko rin po kilala o nakilala ang mga kriminal or suspects or akusado sa kaso na ito; hindi ko alam ano hitsura nila at hindi ko pa sila nakikita," Leviste said.

He said that as a local official, he will not condone any illegal activity in the province.

Conrad Leviste, in his affidavit, issued a similar statement.

"I specifically deny any insinuation, hint, allusion, innuendo, allegation or reference that my family members, our family companies or myself have any direct or indirect connection with the Sinaloa Mexico and/or Chinese drug cartels," he said.

"I would not and will never allow any of our family's properties to be used by any person for illegal activities," his affidavit read.

The Levistes attached copies of the lease agreement that LBJ Development Corp. entered into with a certain Jorge Torres, Certificate of Registration and Articles of Incorporation of LBJ from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Management Agreement between LBJ and Running Spring dated June 18, 2013, and LBJ General Information Sheet as of Jan. 19, 1987.

'Tony Leviste not connected with property'

Former Governor Antonio Leviste's recent parole grant could be in peril should it be found that he knew of the alleged syndicate's illegal drug trade, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima earlier announced.

Leviste is on parole after serving the minimum sentence for the killing of his aide, Rafael Delas Alas, in 2007.

Vice-Governor Leviste, however, stressed that his family, and not the former governor's, partly owns the controversial property.

"Gov. Tony has no ownership [of said property] and has nothing to do with the property," the younger Leviste said.

Antonio Leviste appeared before Navera and Assistant State Prosecutor Irwin Maraya last January 9 to execute an affidavit denying any involvement in the property.

The DOJ summoned the Levistes in the drug probe because under Sectoin 30 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, corporations, associations, their officers, and estate administrators who "consent to or knowingly tolerate" violations to this law may be held liable as co-principal.