By Czarina Nicole Ong
The Office of the Ombudsman – Field Identification Office (FIO) has wrapped up its fact-finding investigation on former Vice President Jejomar Binay and his involvement in the reportedly anomalous sale of a property owned by Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) located in Malugay Street, Makati City.
With the fact-finding investigation done, the graft complaint against Binay and officials of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) will now undergo a preliminary investigation to see whether there is probable cause to formally charge them before the Sandiganbayan.
The FIO has recommended that criminal and administrative charges for violation of Section 3(e) and (g) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act be filed against Binay in his capacity as former BSP President and Senior Vice President Wendel Avisado.
These charges also extend to BSP executives Del De Guzman, J. Miguel De Jesus, Enrique Lagdameo, Pedro Destura, Dale Corvera, Maximo Edralin, Jr., Remedios Petilla, Roberto Pagdanganan, Harmes Sembrano, Mildred Garay, Manuel Jose Dalipe, Leo Lasacar, Danilo Asiaten, Lutgardo Barbo, Jose Mari Pelaez, Ireneo Aquino, Jose Eduardo Delgado, Henry Dy, Jose Ma. Gastardo, Pepito Carpio, Nemesio Miranda, Jr., Jaime Semana, Wilfredo Chato, Alan Zulueta, Jorge Banal Sr., Efren Edgard Dieta, Rodolfo Tamani, Von Carlo Yacob, J. Rizal Pangilinan, Salud Bagalso, and Amado Espino, Jr., who is a lawmaker from Pangasinan’s 5th District.
Meanwhile, charges for violation of Section 3(e) were also recommended against Alphaland Makati Place, Inc. (AMPI) President Mario Oreta and former BIR officers Teodoro Galicia, Authorized Revenue Official; Mark Anthony Panganiban, Revenue Officer; and Romeo Tomas, Group Supervisor.
On the other hand, an administrative complaint for Gross Neglect of Duty was also recommended against Binay, Avisado, De Guzman, Pagdanganan, Lasacar, Palaez, Delgado, Dy, and Carpio.
The FIO revealed that on June 2, 2011, the BSP National Executive Board authorized the sale of the 10,000-square meter property to AMPI for a total contract price of P600,000,000.
However, the sale was grossly undervalued since the Omnibus Loan and Security Agreement between BSP and AMPI showed the Malugay property was mortgaged for P1,750,000,000 – which is indicative of the property’s true value.
The AMPI even commissioned Intech Property Appraisal Inc. (Intech) on November 25, 2015, to appraise the Malugay property and its improvement. Based on Intech’s findings, the land was valued at P1,700,000,000 (10,000 sqm x P170,000.00 per square meter) and its improvements were valued at P8,426,541,915. All in all, the total appraisal value is P10,126,542,000.
As for the BIR officials, they were faulted for certifying that the sale was exempted from payment of capital gains tax, which resulted in a loss of P63,000,000 in tax collection for the government.
The FIO said that the grant of tax exemption from capital gains tax without obtaining a request for a BIR ruling for the exemption showed that the respondents acted with manifest partiality and evident bad faith, therefore causing undue injury to the government.
Binay’s spokesperson Joey Salgado said in a statement that the Ombudsman’s investigation on the former vice president reeks of “hypocrisy and double standard.”
Salgado recalled the statements made by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales days ago when she said that she will no longer be pursuing cases against high-profile personalities of the previous administration who benefited from the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) scam.
However, “the Ombudsman can and will always find time against” Binay, said Salgado, “even if the complaint lacks basis in fact.”
“Clearly, the Ombudsman intends to spend her last days in office pursuing her personal and political agenda against Binay while being a true-blue Yellow protector to the end. It’s selective justice, pure and simple,” he said.