Insists Sunchamp Agri-Tourism Park chief Tony Tiu a 'dummy'
MANILA - Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Wednesday bared before the blue ribbon sub-committee another alleged "dummy" used by Vice President Jejomar Binay to hide properties he supposedly acquired from ill-gotten wealth.
Trillanes laid out the alleged links between Binay and Filipino-Chinese businessman Antonio Tiu, who he said is the dummy owner of the vice president's 350-hectare property in Rosario, Batangas, concealing it under the name of Sunchamp Agri-Tourism Park.
In his testimony during Wednesday's hearing, former Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado claimed that Binay owns a 350-hectare estate in Rosario, Batangas which is equivalent to "six Luneta Parks, 10 Araneta Centers or even half the city of San Juan."
Mercado said the estate has two mansions, an air-conditioned piggery, orchid farm, cockbreeding farm, horse ranch, and a man-made lagoon.
The camp of Binay quickly denied this, claiming that the lessor of the property is Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corp., the operator of Sunchamp Agri-Tourism Park.
Lawyer Martin Subido also stressed that Binay only used to lease, and not own, 9 hectares of the total lot for his piggery business JCB Farms from 1994 to 2010.
Subido said Binay sold JCB Farms to businessman Laureano Gregorio's Agrifortuna Inc. when he ran for vice president in 2010. Gregorio then later sold his rights over the property to Tiu's Sunchamp Agri-Tourism Park.
Trillanes, however, insisted during the hearing that Binay is just using Tiu and his Sunchamp Agri-Tourism Park to hide his property.
Trillanes shared to the Senate that last August 5, he attended the "launch" of the Sunchamp Agri-Tourism Park along with Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis Pangilinan, and Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio Delos Reyes.
Sunchamp Agri-Tourism Park from Qudospassion on Vimeo.
The supposed launch, he claimed, was apparently only an attempt by the camp of Binay to make it appear that Tiu's Sunchamp Agri-Tourism Park is a legitimate business.
"Apparently last August 5 nung ni-launch ito, meron silang intensyon na talagang gamitin ang iba't-ibang opisyal ng gobyerno, including myself, si Sec. Pangilinan at si Sec. Delos Reyes, para linisin and to make it appear legitimate," he said.
He noted that the launch still pushed through even if typhoon "Jose" was battering some parts of the country that time.
"Sabi ko, bakit hindi na lang i-postpone ito at bakit hindi makapaghintay. Well, apparently, meron na talagang naka-setup," he said.
Trillanes also said that he was surprised when he noticed that the park's pavements were not new. "Yung mga pavement, yung mga kalye ay may lumot or luma na. Alam mo na luma na ito. Even the landscaping luma. So nagtataka ako bakit ngayon lang ito ni-launch."
"Well apparently ito na nga, naglilinis na ito. Ito na ang isang patunay na talagang nagre-resort sa dummy itong si Vice President Binay," he said.
"Akala kasi ng iba magpa-picture lang sa atin o imbitahan tayo na mag-guest sa isang activity eh magiging protektado na natin sila," he added.
'LINKS' TO BINAY
To back up his claims, Trillanes also presented to the Senate Tiu's alleged connections to Binay.
According to the senator, Tiu folded Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corp. in 2013 into a publicly listed corporation, the Greenergy Holdings Inc., where Tiu is president.
Trillanes said the main shareholders of Greenergy are the Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corp., Earthright Holdings Inc., and the Three Star Capital.
Citing the website of Greenergy, he said Subido, the legal counsel of Binay, is its corporate secretary and compliance officer.
Subido is also the director of Earthright Holdings Inc., he said.
He stressed that Subido is a law partner of one of Binay's daughters, Makati Representative Abigail Binay, and a senior partner of the Subido, Pagente, Certeza, Mendoza and Binay (SPCMB) law office.
Trillanes also pointed out that Earthright shares the same address as the SPCMB law office, and that is at the Value Point Executive Building 227 Salcedo Street in Legazpi Village, Makati City.
'LINK' TO OSMAK EQUIPMENT
Both Trillanes and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano also questioned why Greenergy, a corporation that deals with renewable energy, engaged in agri-tourism through the Sunchamp park.
Cayetano also noted that aside from Greenergy, Tiu is also the CEO, president and chairman of AgriNurture Inc. (ANI), formerly known as Mabuhay 2000 Enterprises Inc.
Mabuhay 2000 Enterprises Inc. was identified by Commission on Audit (COA) Commissioner Heidi Mendoza during the previous hearing as the supplier of the overpriced hospital beds for the Ospital ng Makati (OsMak) back in 2001 and 2002.
The purchase of the allegedly overpriced medical equipment for OsMak happened under the leadership of Binay's wife, former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay.
"Hindi naman po malayo, Sen. Trillanes. Kasi yung energy, agriculture, kama ng hospital, tingin ko pare-parehong agriculture po yun. Pare-parehong kailangan maarawan siguro," Cayetano said sarcastically.
TIU DENIES BEING BINAY DUMMY
Following the allegations against Tiu and Subido, the blue ribbon sub-committee moved to subpoena the two as well as the financial records of Tiu's company records to the next hearing, the date of which has not yet been set.
But just shortly after the Senate hearing, Tiu already vehemently denied being a dummy of Binay, insisting that he is the legitimate owner of all his businesses.
Tiu said it is unfortunate that he is being dragged "into this political circus" by baseless allegations.
SENATE TO INVITE VP AGAIN
Meanwhile, the sub-committee chairman, Senator Koko Pimentel, said they will also again invite the vice president to attend the next hearing to respond to the new accusations against him.
"Sa bigat po ng mga akusayon na binitiwan ni Vice Mayor Mercado, I think we need to set another hearing and invite the vice president. We have to give him another chance to rebut or to answer all these accusations, charges leveled against him by the former vice mayor of Makati," he said.
Cayetano also said that they can no longer presume innocence on the part of Binay "because there is already evidence of ill-gotten wealth."
"So this is now up to him to show na mali and hindi totoo yung accusations against him," he said.