Body of evidence, Part I

There’s no more doubt that City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog swindled the United Parcel Service of its P2 million donation to the improvement of English language teaching proficiency among public school teachers in Iloilo City. Over the last week, I’ve managed to gather incontrovertible documentary evidence to prove that Mabilog shortchanged both the donor and the supposed beneficiaries of the program —- the teachers and the school children.

This is a big scandal. It is shameful. It is tantamount to corporate fraud. And what’s worse is that it was done in the name of a noble objective of helping improve the public education system in Iloilo City. It was carried out under a disguise of promoting honest and accountable living for a graft-free Iloilo City. It betrays the true character of the man behind all these: Mabilog.

How did this happen?

Sometime in 2007, United Parcel Service, a world-wide logistics company based in Atlanta, Georgia, donated P2 million to the Honest and Accountable Living for a Graft-free Iloilo City (HALIGI) Foundation to undertake the special training of public school teachers and help them become better mentors on the English language. Apparently, English language competency improvement is a major program of UPS in its corporate social responsibility (CSR) portfolio.

Mabilog was vice mayor of the city at the time. He was also the chief financial officer (and continues to hold the position) of the HALIGI Foundation which he and his brother, Jeffrey Christian E. Mabilog, control. Jeffrey is the chairman of the board.

The financial assistance was booked in the foundation’s accounting records under the Journey Towards English Development for Mentors (JED-M). The financial reports of the foundation which were submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) show that at the end of December 31, 2007, the fund stood at P2,000,000. It must be emphasized that the financial reports submitted to SEC are audited. The income and expenses reflected therein have been certified as “true and correct”.

By the end of December 31, 2008, the JED-M fund’s balance went down to P1,452,477.64. The audited financial reports showed no specific expenditures that can explain where more than half a million pesos from the JED-M fund were utilized. The only plausible expense item that could have properly been incurred was P60,880 for stipends and allowances. I had wanted the certified public accountant who audited the financial report to clarify this point. But several calls and text messages to Mrs. Irma D. Lim went unanswered.

In 2009, the foundation went on a spending spree. It reported a deficit of P1.2 million on a year that saw P404,000 of its money going to birthday cakes for senior citizens. At the end of the year, the money for the JED-M program was gone. It disappeared from its balance sheet. Again, nothing in the items of expenditures gave any indication where the balance of P1,452,47764 at the start of the year had gone.

When I filed a report about this glaring case of a trust fund being absconded by the foundation’s officers, I asked the editors of The News Today to solicit a clarification from Norman Tabud, the foundation’s executive director. Tabud is also an executive assistant in the city mayor’s office. Tabud belied the report. He said the money was spent for the JED-M program, with Panpacific Career and Management Institution as the training center that undertook it.

Tabud said HALIGI Foundation transferred the money to the Department of Education (DepEd) Iloilo City and it was the government agency that transacted with Panpacific Career and Management Institution for the conduct of the training. I checked with DepEd; no such amount was ever transferred to the agency. I checked with Panpacific Career and Management Institution. This is where I uncovered an even bigger anomaly: a blatantly dishonest and well-disguised scheme to defraud and swindle UPS.

Perhaps it could be said the discovery of Mabilog’s financial interests in Panpacific was a product of his own panic. When he learned that I went to the office of Panpacific on the 2nd floor of Angeles Arcade, he instructed the office secretary to report to the police that I had “harassed” them. That is totally false because I went there to inquire about their training facilities. The staff, after making me wait for 30 minutes, declined my request to just peek into the training rooms.

This gesture aroused my suspicions, especially because as I was waiting at the Panpacific office, I saw all the business registration papers displayed on the wall. There wasn’t a single registration document for a training school. Everything that I saw belonged to the Panpacific Food Services Inc. and Panpacific Pizza Inc. The office secretary who went to the police station also validated that she’s an employee of the Panpacific Food Services Inc., although she misrepresented herself to me when she tried to convince me the training school was authorized to conduct training for public school teachers.

The next day, I went to the SEC and dug out the articles of incorporation for Panpacific Food Services Inc. and Panpacific Pizza Inc. In less than 10 minutes, the papers were in my hands. Both companies were owned and controlled by Jed Patrick Mabilog. That, by itself, was prima facie evidence of a major wrongdoing, a corporate theft pulled off by an individual who advocated, or rather professed to advocate, honesty and accountability to achieve a graft-free society.

Indeed, there can be mistaking the link between Mabilog and the training school that supposedly conducted the training. The mere location of the “school” in Mabilog’s business office is damning proof of that. How can he explain his sharing the same space with his other private businesses? It can’t be that the training school is a “squatter” there.

As usual, the knee-jerk response of Mabilog’s ubiquitous alter-ego, Jeffrey Celiz, is that I manufactured the story to embarrass and humiliate him. Grudgingly, Celiz admitted that the Panpacific Food Services Inc. and Panpacific Pizza Inc. were indeed owned by Mabilog. (To be continued)

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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