Romualdez: My father was not a Marcos crony

ABS-CBN News

NOT A CRONY: Leyte 1st District congressman and senatorial aspirant Martin Romualdez denied Monday that his father, the late former ambassador Benjamin Romualdez, was a crony of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

Romualdez said his father, who was once named by Forbes Magazine as the 30th richest man in the Philippines with P3.3 billion in net worth, did not acquire his wealth illegally. The late ambassador was the younger brother of Former First Lady Imelda Marcos.

"He wasn't a crony. He was the brother-in-law of President Marcos. He was a governor for about 20 years," Romualdez told ANC's Headstart.

Asked where his father could have gotten P3.3 billion, he said: "I guess he had some investments as well. I was much younger then so I didn't know his business transactions but then again, there have been cases. All of these cases [involing] the [Presidential Commission on Good Government] and the anti-graft have already been dismissed."

In 1986, the PCGG said the late ambassador illegally acquired shares of stock in at least 61 corporations including Meralco, Benguet Corporation, Pilipinas Shell Corporation, PCI Bank and several others.
The Benguet Corporation website currently lists Daniel Andrew Romualdez and Benjamin Philip Romualdez as chairman and vice-chairman of the board, respectively.

Asked how the Romualdez family got a share in Benguet Corporation, the Leyte congressman said: "I believe these were investments earlier on and as I said, if there were any criticisms or accusations with respect to the provenance of these assets, they were all basically dismissed and cleared so everything is good."

In the same interview, the Leyte congressman also denied that he paid $20,000 for the dinner of then President Arroyo and her entourage in the New York restaurant Le Cirque in 2009.

This is despite the statement of then Press Secretary Cerge Remonde that it was Romualdez who picked up the tab, and that Mrs. Arroyo and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo were merely invited to the dinner.

"No. I didn't pay for a 20,000-dollar dinner. I think that's all I can say about that. I can't say I have because I didn't," Romualdez said.

He admitted that he was present during the dinner but did not know who paid the bill. "I didn't pay for it," he said.

Imelda Marcos, aunt of Romualdez, earlier defended the bill, saying that dinner in New York for a President is "double, triple the prices.]

READ: Imelda: Fight over Le Cirque bill shameful

In the interview, Romualdez said he is ready to face criticisms and accusations as he vies for a Senate seat. He said he wants to become senator because it has been 60 years since Eastern Visayas was represented in the Senate.

A former lawyer who went into the corporate world of banking and mining, he said being a Romualdez is a plus since he can use his family's years of public service as leverage.

He also answered questions about his wealth, saying he was able to earn a lot of money when he was still a private lawyer. Romualdez declared assets worth P474 million and zero liabilities in 2014.

"I was a lawyer before I became congressman. l was able to rise up the ranks of some corproate boards. I even ended up becoming the chairman of the Equitable Banking Corporation and chairman of Benguet Corporation, the oldest mining corporation in the Philippines. We were behind some of the biggest mergers in the country. We were ever lucky and fortunate to make the right investments and decisions then," he said.

Asked what kind of politician has zero liabilities, he said: "I am old fashioned. My father never wanted to have utang."